Rheinmetall, a specialist maker of automotive components and defence equipment, said Wednesday it achieved its best-ever results last year on strong demand particularly for its car parts. Rheinmetall said in a statement that underlying profits, as measured by earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), jumped by 19 percent to 354 million euros ($469 million) on a 12-percent increase in sales to 4.454 billion euros. \"The automotive sector excelled, with a very pleasing development in sales combined with a particularly positive growth in earnings,\" the company said. The division\'s sales increased by 17 percent and EBIT soared by 86 percent, while sales in the defence sector increased by 7.0 percent, but underlying profits were slightly lower. Rheinmetall said it would publish its final figures for 2011 on March 21.