Car dealer Pendragon Plc said new retail car sales in the first quarter rose, outperforming the market, and forecast 2010 profitability to be line with expectations.

Shares of the company, whose specialist marques range from Maserati to Mercedes-Benz, were up 5.7 percent at 32.25 pence at 0751 GMT on Thursday on the London Stock Exchange.

For the three months ended March 31, new retail car sales were up 4.3 percent, excluding scrappage, outperforming the market, which fell 1.5 percent.

Used-car volume was up 13.8 percent and margins rose 11.8 percent.

The company, which trades as Stratstone, Evans Halshaw and Chatfields, said it was confident that used-car margins would remain stable, while used-car volume would grow during the year.

The first quarter of this year has seen a continuation of the improvement in profitability that started in 2009. We remain cautiously optimistic that this will continue during the year, Pendragon said in a statement.

Aftersales profitability rose 3.9 percent from the year-ago period. (Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)