Aston Martin gears up for IPO with first pre-tax profit since 2010

LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Aston Martin delivered its first annual pre-tax profit since 2010 on Monday after last year's sales reached a nine-year high, while the luxury British carmaker also confirmed it is considering a stock market flotation.

Pre-tax profit reached 87 million pounds ($122 million) last year at fictional spy James Bond's car brand of choice, overturning a 163 million pound loss in 2016 as volumes hit 5,100 units.

Since Chief Executive Andy Palmer became boss in 2014, Aston has pursued a turnaround plan designed to boost its model line-up, quadruple volumes and produce its first SUV at a new plant in Wales.

Palmer told Reuters the DB11 sports car and a series of special vehicles helped to drive profitability last year with a series of new models set to push the firm "significantly" above 5,000 units in 2018.

"I would expect the factory to be max-ing out in terms of its production capability towards the second half of the year."

Sources have told Reuters that Aston's main shareholders, Italian private equity fund Investindustrial and a group of Kuwaiti investors, hired Lazard and could either opt for an IPO in the third or fourth quarter, or a trade sale.

"It's a fact that we've now been asked to consider a range of strategic options for the future of the group and one of those options of course is an IPO," Palmer said.

Asked whether the firm, will decide this year on any such move, he said: "There are arguments for multiple years to be frank. There are pros and cons. We're just looking at those ranges of options."

Palmer also said Aston Martin was applying to have the new Vantage licensed by a regulator in the European Union rather than in Britain due to uncertainty over vehicle rules after Brexit. ($1 = 0.7115 pounds) (Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Alexander Smith)