FRANKFURT: Volkswagen expects deliveries, revenues and margins to rebound strongly this year as the coronavirus pandemic eases, after an almost halving in profits in 2020 that was still better than the German carmaker originally expected.
The global No.2 after Toyota by cars sold, Volkswagen is spending tens of billions of euros to reinvent itself as a leader in the market for electric vehicles, where Tesla has stolen a march on established rivals.
"Last year, the Volkswagen Group succeeded in containing the effects of the pandemic on its business and laying important strategic foundations for its transformation at the same time," finance chief Frank Witter said on Friday.
Deliveries and sales, which were both hit by the pandemic in 2020, are seen up significantly this year, the company said, without being more specific. In 2020, sales fell 11.8per cent to 222.9 billion euros (US$270.2 billion), while deliveries dropped 15.2per cent.
The operating margin is seen at the upper end of its 5.0-6.5per cent target range, Volkswagen said, up from 4.3per cent last year.
"The financial results now available are far better than originally expected and show what our company is capable of achieving, especially in a crisis," Witter said.
"We intend to carry over the strong momentum from the significantly better second half into the current year."
Shares in Volkswagen turned positive on the news and rose as much as 2.4per cent to a fresh 13-month high.
While the company has emerged from the hit to demand caused by the pandemic, a shortage of crucial semiconductors caused it to adjust production through February, joining other carmakers around the world that have suffered similar problems.
Despite the profit drop, Volkswagen recommended keeping its dividend to shareholders stable for 2020 versus 2019, when it paid 4.86 euros per preferred and 4.80 per ordinary share, beating analysts' estimate of 3.35 euros for preferred shares, according to Refinitiv data.
(US$1 = 0.8260 euros)
(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Jan Schwartz; Additional reporting by Anika Ross. Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter)