BRUSSELS -- A strong showing by D'Ieteren's vehicle glass business should offset weaker car sales and keep overall net profit stable this year, the Belgian auto distributor said on Thursday.
D'Ieteren, Belgium's biggest car distributor, said although overall car sales had fallen in early 2005, strong demand for new Audi models had helped boost its market share, and forecast a slight increase in its share of the Belgian car market over the whole year. It said its Belron business, whose units repair and replace car glass in Europe, North America, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, had performed particularly well in continental Europe.
"The recent deterioration of the Belgian automobile market perspectives, on one hand, and the strong start of the year achieved by Belron, on the other hand, lead us to maintain however our guidance for a consolidated current result after taxes, group's share broadly in line with that of 2004," it said in a statement.
In 2004, D'Ieteren made a net current profit, excluding exceptional charges and amortization, of 96.4 million euros ($121.2 million) on revenues of 3.34 billion euros.
D'Ieteren, which distributes Seat, Audi, Volkswagen, and other car brands in Belgium, cut its forecast for 2005 new car registrations in Belgium to a fall of 6 percent to 470,000.
But it predicted its market share would inch up, from 18.1 percent last year, to close to 19 percent.
D'Ieteren is also the majority shareholder in Europe's biggest listed car rental firm, Avis Europe.