German stock market operator Deutsche Börse said late Monday its earnings rose to record levels in the first three months of the current year and that it planned to pay out as much as 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to shareholders in the next two years. Net earnings per share shot up by 40.6 percent to 0.97 euros in the three months to March, Deutsche Börse said in a statement. Underlying profits, as measured by earnings before interest and amortisation (EBITA), rose by 18 percent to 177.7 million euros. Revenues were up by five percent at 399.4 million euros. "The first quarter was the strongest quarter in the history of our company," said chief financial officer Mathias Hlubek. Deutsche Börse said it also planned to pay out a total 1.5 billion euros to its shareholders by 2007, of which 800 million euros would be paid out this year. The payout would take the form of a higher dividend and a share buyback program, the company said.