UPDATE 1-D'Ieteren ups car sales outlook, holds profit forecast


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BRUSSELS, May 31 (Reuters) - Belgium's largest car distributor D'Ieteren gave a more positive view of Belgian car sales on Thursday, but left its full-year profit forecast unchanged.

D'Ieteren, which distributes the Volkswagen , Seat, Audi, Skoda, Bentley, Porsche and Lamborghini brands, said Belgian new car registrations were likely to total 495,000 this year, up from a previous forecast of 490,000.

So far this year new car registrations are down by 7 percent, after strong sales in 2006, but D'Ieteren Auto said it has achieved a market share of 20.72 percent, up from 19.43 percent for the whole of 2006, as Audi, Skoda and Seat gained.

The company has a 20 percent market share target.

D'Ieteren, which owns majority stakes in Europe's biggest car rental company Avis and Belron, a vehicle glass repair and replacement business, said it maintained its expectation that its current consolidated pre-tax profit would grow by between 5 and 10 percent in 2007.

D'Ieteren said Belron had made a good start to 2007 despite lower vehicle glass breakage in Europe due to a mild winter. It achieved growth through progress with insurers and fleet partners.

Belron completed the acquisition of U.S. company Safelite Group Inc in March, adding that costs required to achieve significant synergies were expected to total 12 million euros ($16.11 million).

Avis Europe said last week that volume growth had improved further in the year to date and its expectations for the full year were unchanged.



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