Renault should see a return to net profit by next year, CEO Carlos Ghosn told the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

The carmaker has set a target of achieving positive free cash flow for 2010 and will announce a new medium-term plan at the end of the year, Ghosn said. The company was forced to drop an earlier, ambitious margin target when the economic crisis hit.

Ghosn told reporters after the shareholders’ meeting: “We will announce a medium-term plan because we think the crisis which touched the automobile industry should definitively be part of the past.”

He did not give details on what would be in the plan, but said synergies with alliance partner Nissan and now with Daimler, with which it has just signed a cooperation agreement, would feature while plans for emerging markets and electric cars will be prominent.

Renault will also discuss with rival PSA Peugeot-Citroen the timing of repayment of the EUR3bn (US$4bn) in loans each carmaker received from the French government last year to weather the financial crisis, Ghosn said.

Earlier Renault posted forecast-beating first quarter sales and confirmed its positive free cash flow objective, although warning that the difficult economic environment would continue.