VW says no guarantee of success in 2015

Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:38pm EST
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By Andreas Cremer

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) stuck to its guidance for operating profit even after delivering record earnings last year, saying falling demand in key markets may weigh on its business.

VW, in contrast to rivals, said its operating margin may fall this year, giving a target range of 5.5 to 6.5 percent after reaching 6.3 percent last year.

"Given the subdued growth prospects in regions outside China, there is no guarantee that 2015 will be a successful year, either for the industry or for VW," finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch said on Friday.

Shares in Europe's largest carmaker fell almost 6 percent before recovering to finish 0.3 percent higher at 225.5 euros. The European autos index was up 0.9 percent.

"I find the outlook very conservative. It's almost identical to last year's although currency markets are more positive than a year ago and demand for cars is also a touch better," said Metzler Bank automotive analyst Juergen Pieper.

Volkswagen raised its forecast for revenue, saying it could exceed last year's record 202 billion euros by as much as 4 percent, but stuck to its 2015 group operating margin target.

In contrast, Toyota (6203.T: Quote) raised its profit guidance as it anticipates record earnings while Peugeot (PEUP.PA: Quote) - which only survived the European slump after a multi-billion share issue - raised a key cash-flow goal after narrowing its net loss in 2014.

VW has said it is bracing for a tough year after sales at its namesake brand, accounting for about 60 percent of group deliveries, fell for a fourth month in January with demand shrinking in key European and Chinese markets.   Continued...

A 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf is seen at the press day for the Washington Auto Show in Washington January 22, 2015.     REUTERS/Gary Cameron