Volkswagen on Tuesday said it was optimistic about its prospects in the current business year after earnings rose sharply last year following cost-cutting and capital gains.

Thanks to a large number of new vehicles scheduled to be launched this year, “we are expecting a slight increase in deliveries to customers in 2007,” VW said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“2007 sales revenue will consequently increase year-on-year. We will continue to vigorously drive forward the activities to improve cost structures and processes in 2007. This, along with the steps we undertook in 2006, will lead to a sustainable improvement in our competitiveness,” the car maker said, according to the report.

VW added that 2007 operating profit was projected to exceed last year’s level, AFP said.

Net profit last year more than doubled to EUR2.75b ($US3.6bn) in 2006 from EUR1.12bn a year earlier, the statement, the report said.

Operating profit before exceptional items jumped by 51.7% to 4.38bn euros on an 11.6% rise in revenues to EUR104.87bn and unit sales rose 9.4% to 5.734m vehicles, AFP added.

The report said that earnings were boosted in part by windfall gains from divestments, such as the sale of Europcar for nearly EUR800m.

Changes in German corporate taxes also had a positive impact of EUR951m, the car maker told AFP.

Extensive restructuring and cost cuts – which cost VW EUR2.4bn to implement – also began to pay off, AFP said.