FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> reported an 18.6 percent drop in third-quarter adjusted operating profit, weighed down by weaker vehicle sales and headwinds tied to the introduction of more stringent anti-pollution rules.
The carmaker's adjusted operating profit of 3.51 billion euros (3.12 billion pounds) was higher than the 3.21 billion euros forecast in a Reuters poll of banks and brokerages.gi
It affirmed on Tuesday its target for 2018 operating return on sales before special items at both the group and its passenger cars business area to come to 6.5 to 7.5 percent.
But including special items, the figure will fall moderately short of the expected range, it said.
Volkswagen has struggled to adapt its fleet to the worldwide harmonised light vehicle test procedure, known as WLTP which took effect in September 2018 resulting in a 3.6 percent decline deliveries during the quarter as some car models remained unavailable for sale.
Despite this, VW said it expects new vehicle sales to rise moderately this year, after delivering 10.74 million vehicles to customers in 2017.
Shares in Volkswagen rose 2.9 percent in early Frankfurt trade <VOWG_p.F>, putting them among the biggest gainers on Germany's blue-chip DAX index <.GDAXI>.
($1 = 0.8794 euros)
(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Maria Sheahan)