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MAN's Second-Quarter Profit More Than Doubles

Truckmaker MAN said Tuesday that improved demand in eastern Europe for its trucks along with lower costs helped its second-quarter earnings more than double as it confirmed its outlook for the rest of 2007.

The Munich-based truck builder and engineering group earned 440 million euros ($601 million) in the April-June period compared with euro198 million a year earlier, but below the 591 million euros ($807.3 million) that analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted.

MAN shares rose nearly 4% to 106.80 euros ($145.88) in Frankfurt.

The results were also helped, in part, by a 43 million euro ($58.7 million) dividend payment from its 15% stake in Swedish rival Scania, which it tried but failed to acquire outright last year.

MAN bought the stake in the Sodertalje, Sweden-based company in the midst of its failed 10.3 billion euros ($14.07 billion) takeover.

Sales rose 9% to 3.5 billion euros ($4.78 billion) in the quarter from 3.2 billion euros a year earlier while order intake, a key barometer showing future production, rose 17% to 4.8 billion euros ($6.56 billion) from 4.1 billion euros in the second quarter of 2006.

"All the MAN Group's business areas have delivered improved results, in some cases appreciably," Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement. "The focus of our attention is a continuous improvement of our business processes, an increase in the production volume and in efficiency as well as our international growth. This path we are pursuing unswervingly."

Looking forward, Samuelsson said that MAN expects its order intake to grow by 5% through the rest of 2007, with overall sales for the year likely to rise more than 10%.

Despite the failure to acquire Scania, MAN is looking for a possibly friendly merger, guided by Volkswagen, which holds major stakes in both companies.

However, none of the companies has said if there is a timetable for such talks.