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Cost-cutting efforts are finally giving auto maker Volkswagen a lift. On Apr. 20 the $116 billion giant reported its operating profit in the first quarter rose 41%, to $603 million -- the first sign of improvement since a profit slide began in 2003. But VW is still losing market share, despite the launch of new models, as Asian rivals gain ground. VW's European share dropped 6.7% in the first quarter, while Honda (HMC
) gained 6.7%, and Kia jumped 68.6%. In China, where VW once held a commanding lead, sales plunged 66% in January and February, prompting a management shakeup. VW's 2.2% operating margin remains nothing to toot about. EDITED BY Edited by Rose Brady