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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Post DHL (DPWGn.DE) forecast a rise in profits this year after robust demand for package delivery from online shoppers bolstered its earnings in the final quarter of 2012.
"As the market leader in the German parcel sector, we are strongly benefiting from the current e-commerce boom," Chief Executive Frank Appel said on Tuesday.
Deutsche Post's mail business, which generates about a quarter of group revenues, has been suffering from shrinking demand for letter mail as consumers and businesses rely increasingly on electronic communication.
But the company recently said package deliveries reached a record level during the Christmas season in Germany last year, exceeding 7 million shipments per day for the first time as more consumers ordered gifts over the Internet.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose 38 percent to 827 million euros ($1.1 billion) in the fourth quarter, exceeding analysts' average forecast of 809 million in a Reuters poll, thanks to a 52 percent gain in profit from the mail business.
Shares in Deutsche Post jumped to the top of the German blue-chip DAX index .GDAXI, up 4.2 percent at 17.72 euros by 1000 GMT.
Deutsche Post sees group EBIT rising as much as 11 percent this year, to between 2.7 billion and 2.95 billion euros, in line with analysts' consensus forecast of 2.83 billion euros.
Net profit, which rose 43 percent to 1.66 billion euros in 2012, will grow in line with operating profit this year.
But Chief Executive Frank Appel also warned the economic environment was likely to remain tough for the coming months, before improving later in the year.
"If you had asked me (about my outlook for 2013) three weeks ago I probably would have been more positive because I came back from the World Economic Forum with a relatively positive outlook," he said in a video published on Deutsche Post's website.
"But as you have seen this week and last week there are decisions which are taking place currently via the fiscal cliff in the U.S. and the election in Italy which create new uncertainty," he said, adding he expected significant volatility in markets in the coming months.
Editing by David Cowell and Mark Potter