First-quarter operating profit at Volkswagen surged almsot 60% thanks to restructuring gains, higher car sales and flattered by a weak comparison from last year, the car maker said on Wednesday according to a published report.

According to Reuters, VW also maintained its forecast for this year’s operating profit to exceed the EUR4.38bn it earned before certain items in 2006, although qualifying it as “probable”.

In preliminary figures published ahead of its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, Volkswagen reportedly said operating profit jumped 57.7% to a better-than-expected EUR1.085bn ($US1.48bn) before special items.

According to the average estimate from a Reuters poll of 14 banks and brokerages, the market forecast pre-exceptional operating profit of EUR994m.

“The high positive rates of change in the first quarter of 2007 should be seen in the light of the relatively low comparative figures for the first quarter of 2006,” the company said in a statement cited by the news agency.

“The success of the restructuring measures led to higher results in the second to fourth quarters of 2006,” VW continued, according to Reuters.