MILAN (Reuters) - Sales of Ferrari, the high-end Italian sports car, rose more than 13 percent to 556.1 million euros in the first quarter of this year, helped by strong sales in the U.S., Britain and Germany, which offset a 34 percent fall in crisis-hit Italy.
Italians spooked by rising car taxes and highly publicized tax fraud spot checks cut back their purchases of high-end sports car brands Ferrari and Maserati in the first quarter of 2012, an industry body said last month.
However, in the United States, Ferrari's biggest market, the company's sales increased by 16 percent compared to the same period last year.
In Britain the company recorded a 31 percent increase in sales in the first three months of the year, with 177 cars delivered in the same quarter the country entered a double-dip recession.
Sales rose 24 percent in Germany.
Ferrari, which is owned by Italy's biggest carmaker Fiat FIA.MI, reported on Thursday that first-quarter net profit rose 17.2 percent to 42.1 million euros.
"After an extraordinary 2011, starting the year with all the economic indicators on the rise is very satisfying indeed," Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo said in the statement.
Ferrari now has 50 stores in the world, including its newest outpost in Madrid, which is due to officially open at the end of the month. (Euro=$1.29)
Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Carol Bishopric