French auto group PSA Peugeot Citroen has reported a near five-fold profits leap on the back of cost-cutting and strong sales.

Chief executive Christian Streiff said the results for 2007 marked a 'first stage on the road to recovery' for the group. 

Net profit amounted to €885m and sales rose by 7.1% to €60.613 billion. Profits from current operations rose by more than half to €1.752 billion.

The net profit figure for 2007 was less than analysts had generally expected but the operating outcome was better than their forecasts.

The group said it expected a slight fall in the west European car market this year. But the company said it would continue to benefit from the commercial success of the Peugeot 207 and Citroen C4 Picasso models and from rising sales of the Peugeot 308.

In emerging market regions where the group is aiming for strategic development, it expects markets to grow by 10% or more.

Under the 'Cap 2010' plan announced by Mr Streiff early in 2007, the group aims to sell four million vehicles in 2010 and achieve an operating marging of 5.5-6% by then.

The group has focused on improving quality, cutting overheads and increasing its competitiveness.