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May 4 (Reuters) - Rheinmetall
* Says q1 consolidated sales up 14% to €1,349 million in the first quarter
* Says q1 operating earnings for the group improve by 61% or €19 million to €50 million
* Says q1 automotive increases sales to €737 million and profitability to 8.4%
* Says strong sales growth in defence of 16% to €612 million and improvement in earnings of €7 million
* Says forecast for fiscal 2017 confirmed
* Says operating margin for the rheinmetall group will remain at the previous year’s level of 6.3%.
* Says expects operating result in automotive to climb again, operating margin of at least 8%, earnings will continue to improve in defence in 2017, sees operating ebit margin of between 5.0% and 5.5%.
* Reuters poll avg for Rheinmetall Q1 sales 1.34 bln eur, for EBIT 42.2 mln eur Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: