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Volkswagen Sees Flat Operating Profit But Rising Revenue in 2013

02/22/2013 | 10:17am US/Eastern
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By Friedrich Geiger

FRANKFURT--Volkswagen AG (>> Volkswagen AG) said Friday it is aiming to match last year's operating profit in 2013 as it expects revenue to rise, but amid an uncertain economic environment and intense competition.

"While we shall see positive effects from our attractive model range and strong market position, there will also be increasingly stiff competition in a challenging market environment," Volkswagen said.

The German car maker--Europe's biggest auto maker by sales--proposed increasing dividends by almost 17% for 2012 after net profit rose sharply due to record sales and its acquisition of sports car maker Porsche.

Announcing preliminary results for the year to Dec. 31, Volkswagen said full-year net profit rose to 21.72 billion euros ($28.73 billion) from EUR15.41 billion in 2011 as strong sales in China and North America, the world's two biggest auto markets, offset shrinking demand in Europe.

A EUR12.3 billion gain from the valuation of Porsche Automobil Holding SE (>> Porsche Automobil Holding SE), the investment company that used to own the Porsche car-making business, also inflated net profit.

Volkswagen has proposed a EUR0.50 increase in the dividend paid to holders both of preferred stock and ordinary stock to EUR3.56 and EUR3.50, respectively.

The auto maker is controlled by the Porsche and Piech families. Volkswagen's other major ordinary shareholders are the German state of Lower Saxony and Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the Middle East kingdom.

Operating profit rose 2.1% to EUR11.51 billion, as the first-time consolidation of Porsche and truck maker MAN SE (>> Man SE) masked Volkswagen's underlying performance. Write-downs on prices Volkswagen paid to increase its stakes in the companies likely mostly offset their contributions to operating profit, the company said earlier.

Volkswagen's multiple acquisitions in recent years, including Swedish truck maker Scania and Italian motorcycle maker Ducati, make it difficult to judge its underlying performance. The group whose 12 brands include Skoda and Lamborghini has consolidated Porsche's sports car business since August and MAN since November 2011.

Revenue rose 21% to EUR192.68 billion last year, helped by the addition of Porsche and MAN and strong sales of Volkswagens' other brands. The group sold 9.3 million vehicles, almost a third of which in China. Unit sales of VW passenger cars rose 13% and those of Audi increased 12%.

Volkswagen is set to release full 2012 figures on March 14.

Write to Friedrich Geiger at friedrich.geiger@dowjones.com

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Stocks mentioned in the article : Volkswagen AG, Porsche Automobil Holding SE, Man SE
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