VW manages a profit
Germany's Volkswagen, the biggest European carmaker, said Thursday it was still making a profit despite the global economic crisis but was cautious about future prospects.
VW posted a second-quarter net profit of 283 million euros (400 million dollars), a huge drop of 83 percent from the same period a year earlier.
First-half net profit was off by 81 percent at 494 million euros, on sales that fell by 9.4 percent to 51.2 billion euros.
The group delivered a total of 3.1 million vehicles in the six-month period, down five percent, a statement said. It reiterated a non-detailed, full-year forecast of a drop in net profit and sales compared with 2008.
"The high volatility of market developments does not permit any reliable forecasts to be made for the rest of fiscal year 2009," the statement said.
"Based on the extremely weak business in the first six months of 2009, we continue to expect that our earnings will not reach the level of previous years."
Investors shrugged off the weak figures and outlook however, and VW shares surged in morning trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange.
Operating profit in the six months to June slumped 63.9 percent to 1.24 billion euros but VW fared better than rivals, including Toyota, which VW wants to replace as the world's biggest automaker.
In France, Renault reported Thursday a first-half net loss of 2.71 billion euros as sales slumped 23.7 percent to 15.99 billion euros.
"Even in a particularly difficult phase in the international automotive markets we were able to gain share in key markets. This has further improved our position on our way to the top," a VW statement quoted chairman Martin Winterkorn as saying.
For 2009, the German group aimed to do better than the market as a whole, and said Thursday that its share of the global passenger car market had risen to 12 percent.
Deliveries of vehicles to its core German, Chinese and Brazilian markets even surpassed the figures of a year earlier, the company said, owing in part to government subsidies that will taper off later this year.
In China, VW said it had successfully launched two models, the Passat Lingyu and a new version of its venerable Golf.
With the introduction of several new models that consume less fuel, "while the Volkswagen Group will be unable to escape the downward trend, we believe that it will perform better than the market as a whole and will be able to gain additional market share during the crisis," it said.
Finance director Hans Sieter Poetsch was quoted as saying meanwhile that "preserving our financial flexibility is a top priority," and the group reported cash reserves of 12.3 billion euros as of June 30.
Investors welcomed the news, and VW shares rose 4.63 percent to 252.87 euros in late morning trade on the Frankfurt stock exchange, while the DAX index on which they are listed was 0.61 percent higher.
The company has just managed to ward off a takeover attempt by luxury sports car maker Porsche, its biggest shareholder, and is now working to integrate Porsche as its 10th brand, alongside the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini marques.
VW is reportedly set to pay around eight billion euros for Porsche.