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 11.8% to 222.9 billion euros ($270.2 billion), while deliveries dropped 15.2%.
The operating margin is seen at the upper end of its 5.0-6.5% target range, Volkswagen said, up from 4.3% 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, adding that VW plans to carry over the strong momentum into 2021.
Shares in Volkswagen turned positive on the news and rose as much as 2.6% to a fresh 13-month high, with analysts saying there was no need for a listing of luxury division Porsche AG given Volkswagen’s 26.8 billion euros of liquidity.
Such a move, which sources say is being considered by Volkswagen, would still be “very helpful” if Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess wants to nearly triple Volkswagen’s market value to 250 billion euros, Bernstein analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said.
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.
($1 = 0.8260 euros) Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Jan Schwartz; Additional reporting by Anika Ross. Editing by David Evans, Mark Potter and Louise Heavens