* Q1 oper profit 2.9 bln euros vs Rtrs poll avg 2.19 bln
* Automotive net cash 19.6 bln euros at end-March
* Sees gain in 2011 sales, operating profits
* VW shares up 4.7 pct, Porsche 6 pct higher
(Adds fund manager comment, CFO comments)
By Maria Sheahan
FRANKFURT, April 27 (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Europe’s largest carmaker, tore through quarterly earnings forecasts with emerging markets fuelling a sharp rise in sales and taking it closer to its goal of overtaking Toyota (7203.T).
Carmakers have turned to booming markets such as Brazil, Russia and China — now the world’s largest auto market — for growth as European markets stagnate.
VW, whose stable of brands includes Audi, Skoda and Seat, sold 14 percent more vehicles in the first quarter of the year thanks to demand from abroad and a low exposure to supply-chain problems related to the crisis in Japan.
“We continue to see the most dynamic growth prospects in the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America, whereas the industrialised nations will continue to experience only moderate growth,” Volkswagen said on Wednesday.
Bernstein Research said VW’s strong performance was part of a wider trend of demand for German marques.
The country’s car exports jumped by 24 percent in 2010, but German carmakers are already producing more vehicles abroad than in their home market to meet demand from countries such as the United States and China.
Shares in Volkswagen, which has a 12 percent share of the global passenger car market, extended gains to trade 4.7 percent higher at 126.45 euros by 1500 GMT. The STOXX Europe 600 Automobiles & Parts .SXAP index was up 2.5 percent.
VW’s operating profit, which does not include earnings from its lucrative China business, surged to 2.91 billion euros ($4.26 billion), surpassing the 2.19 billion estimated on average from a Reuters poll of 11 analysts. [ID:nLDE73K1M8]
Some European carmakers such as PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) have taken a hit after Japan’s earthquake and nuclear crisis made it difficult to source car parts from there.
Rival Renault (RENA.PA) on Tuesday predicted the impact of the Japan crisis on the auto industry supply chain could lead to slower production in the coming months. [ID:nLDE73P1MT]
But German auto companies have so far remained relatively unscathed by supply chain problems, and the crisis may create an opportunity for Volkswagen to surpass its top rivals.
VW has been aiming to surpass Toyota , the world’s biggest carmaker, in terms of global auto sales, and the Japan crisis could hamper Toyota’s production, pushing it temporarily to the No. 3 spot behind General Motors (GM.N) and VW. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
For analysts’ views on the results, click on: [ID:nLDE73Q0RY]
Japan monthly auto sales: link.reuters.com/bym29r
For a Graphic on the ownership structure of Porsche and
Volkswagen, click r.reuters.com/zug78r ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
VW warned that the crisis in Japan and its economic impact could adversely affect car production and sales but said it still expected to post higher 2011 revenue and operating profit and to top the record 7.14 million vehicles it sold last year.
“The outlook is not aggressive, but that is understandable in the face of uncertainties such as the crisis in Japan, the European debt crisis and an uncertain development of raw material prices,” said Michael Muders, a fund manager at Union Investment, 10th biggest holder of Volkswagen preference shares.
Volkswagen’s Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch told analysts during a conference call that the company should be able to get all the parts it needs for the next few weeks though he could not rule out problems later in the year.
Porsche AG, the sportscar business jointly owned by Porsche SE (PSHG_p.DE) and VW, earlier said it more than doubled its operating profit to 496 million euros in the first quarter, with a 10 percent increase in revenue. (Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz and Arno Schuetze; Editing by Will Waterman and Alexander Smith) ($1=.6838 Euro)