Comdirect, the Internet brokerage arm of Commerzbank, said Friday that it got off to a good start to 2005, with first-quarter earnings up strongly over the levels seen at the end of last year. Comdirect, Germany's leading Internet broker, said in a statement it booked net profit of 8.289 million euros ($10.8 million) in the period from January to March, a rise of 55 percent on the figure for the preceding three months. On a year-on-year basis, however, bottom-line earnings were down 39 percent in the first quarter of 2005 from the figure for January to March in 2004. First-quarter pre-tax profit amounted to 13.042 million euros, up 50 percent on the quarter, but down 38 percent year-on-year. "After a lengthy period of only sideways movement, the German securities market picked up noticeably again in the first few months of this year," Comdirect said. It executed a total 1.559 million orders on behalf of customers, up from 1.32 million in the fourth quarter of 2004, but down from 1.92 million in the first quarter of last year. On the earnings side, Comdirect booked net interest income before risk provisions of 15.222 million euros in the January-March period, up 7.3 percent quarter-on-quarter, but down 6.2 percent year-on-year.