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Volkswagen AG's (VOW.XE) premium division Audi AG (NSU.XE) Friday confirmed its full-year operating profit outlook despite reporting a drop in net profit, but stayed in the black as many of its rivals posted losses due to weaker demand.

For the second half of the year, it expects profit to decline compared to the first half and predicts a positive operating profit in the third and fourth quarters, Chief Financial Officer Axel Strotbek told reporters.

"We're very satisfied with the result for the first half-year, but are keeping our feet on the ground because we expect to face some difficulties in the second half of the year," said Strotbek in a statement. "Despite this, we're maintaining our targets of selling 900,000 vehicles by the end of the year and achieving a significant operating profit."

In 2008 it sold just over a million cars, a mark it targets to reach again in the next two to three years.

Strotbek wasn't optimistic about the outlook for the auto market and said "the overall market probably won't improve markedly in the second half of the year."

Audi steered better through the industry gloom than its rivals due to its lower exposure to the troubled U.S. market, a large presence in China and the launch of several new or updated models.

Net profit attributable to shareholders in the first half fell to EUR671 million from EUR907 million as it sold 466,000 cars. After tax profit, or net profit including minority interests, fell to EUR697 million from EUR930 million.

Audi doesn't keep still but continues to innovate. "Every year we invest around EUR2 billion in the development of innovative products and efficient driveline technologies," Strotbek said. The company plans to launch the new A5 Sportback starts in September in Germany, with the A8 full-size sedan following in 2010 and after that, "halfway through the year, the totally new Audi A1." By 2015 the brand intends to increase its range to 42 models, from 32 currently.