Inchcape profit up 10 pct on Asia growth

LONDON, March 12 Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:16am EDT

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Multinational car dealer Inchcape posted a better-than-expected 10 percent rise in full-year profit, helped by strong growth in Asia and Britain.

The London-based firm, which sells and distributes cars for manufacturers such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW in 26 countries, reported 2012 pretax profit of 250.3 million pounds ($373 million), up from 227.7 million pounds a year earlier, on sales 4.4 percent up at 6.1 billion pounds.

The company was expected to report an average pretax profit of 248 million pounds, according to a Thomson Reuters poll of eight analysts.

The dealer increased the total dividend for the year by 32 percent to 14.5 pence per share.

In Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore delivered particularly strong growth during the period, as did Australia, but sales in continental Europe, especially Greece, fell almost a quarter, the company said on Tuesday.