Without referring to the departure of Ferdinand Piech, presumably a non-event in Group terms, the Volkswagen Group reports that it has made a good start to fiscal year 2015 despite a market environment that remains challenging.
Sales revenue rose by 10.3 per cent to €52.7 billion (€47.8 billion) in the first quarter as a result of higher volumes, improvements in the mix and positive exchange rate effects.
Operating profit grew by 16.6 per cent to €3.3 billion (€2.9 billion). The operating return on sales increased to 6.3 per cent (6.0 per cent). The Group’s operating profit and sales revenue exclude the activities of the Chinese joint ventures, which are accounted for in the financial result using the equity method. The share of operating profit attributable to the Chinese joint ventures in the first three months rose to €1.6 billion (€1.2 billion).
The Volkswagen Group's profit before tax amounted to €4.0 billion (€3.4 billion). The return on sales before tax rose to 7.5 per cent (7.0 per cent) in the period from January to March.
Profit after tax was €2.9 billion (€2.5 billion).
“We have always emphasised that 2015 will be a challenging year for the automotive industry as a whole, and also for us. Nevertheless, our key figures for the first quarter show that the Volkswagen Group remains on course, despite the headwinds. The key focus for the entire workforce is on ensuring that 2015 will be another successful year”, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen AG, in Wolfsburg today.
The Group’s stated objective is to increase its volumes, sales revenue and operating profit in full-year 2015.
Global demand for passenger cars was up 3.7 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015; however, market trends varied from region to region. The overall markets in Asia- Pacific, North America, Western Europe and Central Europe saw growth, while a significant year-on-year decline in market volumes was recorded in Eastern Europe and South America.
“We expect trends in the passenger car markets in the individual regions to remain mixed. This environment demands our utmost flexibility and financial strength so that we can safeguard the Group’s success in the long term and achieve the goals of our Strategy 2018”, said chief financial officer Hans Dieter Pötsch.
The Automotive Division’s net cash flow was up €1.6 billion year-on-year to 1.5 billion. Net liquidity in the Automotive Division amounted to €20.8 billion at the end of March (December 31, 2014:€17.6 billion). Liquidity was reduced by the capital increase in the Financial Services Division, while the successful placement of hybrid notes strengthened the Automotive Division’s capital base.
Investments in property, plant and equipment, investment property and intangible assets, excluding capitalized development costs (capex) increased to €2.1 billion (€1.6 billion). The Volkswagen Group maintained its disciplined approach to investment with a ratio of capex to sales revenue in the Automotive Division of 4.5 per cent (3.9 per cent). The Group invested primarily in production facilities and in the models to be launched in 2015 and 2016, as well as in the ecological focus of the model range.
Operating profit at the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand rose by 16.8 per cent year-on-year to €514 million (€440 million) in the first three months of 2015.
Audi’s operating profit was up on the previous year, at €1.4 billion (€1.3 billion), thanks to higher volumes and improvements in exchange rates. By contrast, high upfront investments in new products and technologies, as well as the expansion of the international production network, weighed on earnings. The operating margin was 9.7 per cent (10.1 per cent).
ŠKODA generated an operating profit of €242 million (185 million) in the first three months of 2015, significantly exceeding the prior-year figure thanks to volume and mix- related factors. The operating margin amounted to 7.6 per cent (6.2 per cent).
Bentley’s operating profit was up year-on-year to €49 million (€45 million). The brand’s operating margin was 10.3 per cent (10.0 per cent).
Porsche recorded an operating profit of €765 million (698 million) and an operating margin of 15.1 per cent (17.8 per cent). Positive volume and exchange rate effects more than offset the negative impact of changes in the mix, increased structural costs and higher development costs for future projects and technologies.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ operating profits rose to €165million (€136million). The operating margin was 6.1 per cent (5.8 per cent).
Scania posted an operating profit of €237 million (€254 million) and an operating margin of 9.6 per cent (10.3 per cent).
MAN generated an operating profit of €34 million (€68 million) and an operating return on sales of 1.1 per cent (2.2 per cent). The weak market trends in Russia and Brazil in particular negatively impacted the commercial vehicles business.
Operating profit at Volkswagen Financial Services amounted to €403 million (€353 million). Volume and exchange rate effects had a positive impact. The number of new financing, leasing, service and insurance contracts signed in the first quarter rose to1.2 million (+ 12.9 per cent)worldwide.
Winterkorn reported: “We are optimally positioned to master the divergent trends in the global automotive markets.”
He remains confident about the remainder of the year: “We are well positioned to master the divergent trends in the global automotive markets. Our Group’s proven strengths include in particular our unique brand portfolio, our diverse range of models, our steadily growing presence in all major world markets and the broad spectrum of our financial services.”
The Volkswagen Group notes that despite recent upheavals in its top management, it will press ahead with its product rollout initiative across all of its brands in 2015, modernising and expanding their offerings and introducing attractive new models.
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