Heavy vehicle-maker Scania says Russia and CIS fuels 1Q income

Stockholm  - Strong demand from Russia, members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Middle East helped boost first-quarter pre-tax profits, Swedish heavy-vehicle and bus maker Scania said Monday.

Pre-tax profit for the quarter grew 17 per cent to 3.51 billion kronor (587 million dollars), compared to 2.99 billion kronor for the corresponding business period 2007.

First-quarter sales were up 15 per cent to 21.99 billion kronor.

Scania noted a drop in order bookings in Western Europe as well as Central and Eastern Europe over a general downturn and weaker demand while "demand remains strong" in Russia and other CIS members.

Management kept its estimates for sales for 2007-09 to "more than 10 per cent."

Chief Executive Leif Ostling said Scania planned to be able to make 90,000 vehicles at the end of the year, and at the end of 2009 have capacity to make 100,000 vehicles but was also prepared for "possible lower demand."

During the quarter, Scania delivered 17,570 trucks, a 10-per-cent increase compared to 20 first-quarter 2007, while bus deliveries dropped 9 per cent to 1,496 units.

Scania said its estimated share of the heavy truck market in Western Europe was about 13.7 per cent during the quarter, about one percentage point down on the corresponding business period 2007.

Developments in expanding markets in Asia and the Middle East, included deliveries of some 50 trucks in India while in the second quarter a facility in Dubai was to begin to equip complete vehicles.

During the first quarter, Swedish investment group Investor AB sold its stake in Scania to Volkswagen, making the German automotive giant majority-owner of Scania. (dpa)

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