Multi-national car dealer Inchcape group has beaten 2010 profit forecasts and resumed dividends as its business in Asian and emerging markets bolstered a patchy economic recovery elsewhere.
The UK group said that it expected the uneven global recovery to extend through 2011 with growth in Hong Kong, Australia, Russia, Finland, the Baltics, Africa and South America.
Inchcape sells and distributes cars in 26 markets and added that it anticipates market declines in Singapore, Greece, Belgium and the UK, which together represent around 50% of its sales.
Also pressuring gross profit margins this year could be the appreciation of the yen and rising input costs for manufacturers.
Profit before tax and one-off items in 2010 rose 38% to GBP214m (US$347m), on the back of cost savings and growth in Asia-Pacific and emerging markets, where Inchcape makes about 65% of its earnings.
Inchcape shares plunged 90% in 2008 but have since recouped more than half of their losses and the group is now valued at GBP1.8bn (US$2.9bn).