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Volkswagen is rebounding strongly from the 2015 diesel emissions crisis, with first quarter results above forecasts thanks to recovery in the core VW brand.

The group said net profit in the first three months of the year was €3.4bn, up 44 per cent from a year ago. Revenues climbed 10.3 per cent to €56.2bn, though VW maintained its cautious prediction that full-year revenue will grow “by up to 4 per cent” this year.

Operating margins for the group were 7.8 per cent, up from 6.1 per cent a year ago before special items.

“Our quarterly figures were positively impacted by the strong performance of the Group brands, the launch of new, compelling products and solid earnings in Western Europe,” said Matthias Müller, chief executive. “Our efforts to improve efficiency and productivity across all areas of the Company are also paying off.”

The world’s largest carmaker, which owns Porsche, Audi, Skoda and others, had already said in preliminary earnings two weeks ago that operating profit rose 28 per cent from a year ago to €4.4bn.

The group sold just under 2.5m cars in the quarter, down 0.5 per cent from a year ago. The small decline was led by a 6.7 per cent sales drop in China, VW’s largest market, whereas sales in Europe and North America rose 4.4 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

The VW brand saw earnings climb to €869m, from €73m. Earnings at Audi fell slightly to €1.2bn, from €1.3bn, while Porsche earnings improved to €932m, from €855m. Skoda earnings climbed 31.8 per cent to €415m “as a result of positive volume, margin and mix effects.”

VW offered little guidance for the year beyond maintaining that operating margins should be between 6-7 per cent. It said the market will be challenging, “particularly from the economic situation, intense competition in the market, exchange rate volatility and the diesel issue.”

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