Volkswagen betting on China for 2009 profit

Volkswagen's third quarter profit plunged 85.7 percent on a 12-month basis on Thursday, but Europe's biggest carmaker said it should still end the year in the black thanks to the booming Chinese market.

Volkswagen betting on China for 2009 profit
Photo: DPA

VW said its third quarter net profit fell to €172 million ($253 million) while operating profit was down 81.3 percent to €278 million.

The results were nonetheless slightly better then expected, beating analyst forecasts compiled by Dow Jones Newswires for an 88 percent drop in net profit.

“The Volkswagen group’s earnings were impacted by the global financial and economic crisis in the first nine months” of the year, VW chairman Martin Winterkorn said in a statement.

VW reiterated its full-year outlook, saying it “continues to expect that it will be unable to reach the level of earnings it achieved in previous years, although the group will close 2009 with a profit.”

In 2008, the car giant recorded sales of €113.8 billion and a net profit of €4.75 billion.

Looking ahead, Winterkorn said “the trend in the automotive industry means that there is no reason for premature optimism. The business climate remains tough.”

VW forecast that “of the world’s major economies, only China and India are likely to record positive growth” this year. China, the statement noted, was now VW’s largest market, accounting for more than one in five of all vehicles sold. Nine-month sales there jumped 37 percent.

Overall, VW improved its share of the global auto market to 11.7 percent from 10 percent, the statement said.

The group has recently acquired its 10th brand, the luxury sports car maker Porsche, and is believed to be considering the purchase of up to two more.

“The Volkswagen Group is holding its own extremely well despite the adverse conditions,” Winterkorn noted.

“While the global market is contracting by 12 percent, we are recording stable delivery levels.”

But the car maker has not escaped the global auto crisis and net profit for the period from January to September fell by 82.5 percent to €655 million, missing an average forecast of analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires of €701 million.

Sales in the nine-month period slipped 9.7 percent to €77.2 billion, while operating profit dropped to €1.5 billion from €4.92 billion.

Investors did not approve and VW shares slipped 0.43 percent to €109.69 in midday trading, while the Frankfurt DAX index of German blue-chips was 0.15 percent higher overall.

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Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium

At least two people were hospitalised Tuesday after a Greenpeace activist crash-landed on the pitch before the Germany-France match at Euro 2020 when his powered parachute microlight struck spidercam cables at Munich's Allianz Arena.

Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium
The activist lands on the turf of the Allianz Arena. credit: dpa | Christian Charisius

The pilot flew over the pitch just before kick-off in the Group F clash with “Kick out oil” written on the canopy of his parachute.

However, when the pilot hit television cables above the pitch, it knocked his microlight off balance and he landed on the turf after clipping one of the stands, where the casualties happened.

The activist was arrested soon after landing.

A Munich police spokesman told AFP that at least two people suffered head injuries and “both had to be taken to hospital, we don’t know yet how serious the injuries are”.

The police spokesman said the activist appears to have escaped injury, but “we are considering various criminal charges. Munich police has zero understanding for political actions that put lives at risk”.

UEFA also slammed the botched stunt.

“This inconsiderate act – which could have had very serious consequences for a huge number of people attending – caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital and law authorities will take the necessary action,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.

The parachutist above the stadium. Photo: dpa | Matthias Balk

“The staging of the match was fortunately not impacted by such a reckless and dangerous action, but several people were injured nonetheless.”

The stunt was a protest against German car manufacturer Volkswagen, one of the sponsors of the European Championship, Greenpeace explained in a Twitter post.

“UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions,” said UEFA.

Greenpeace said they regretted any harm caused.

“This protest was never intended to disrupt the game or hurt people,” read a Twitter post on Greenpeace’s official German account.

“We hope that everyone is OK and that no one was seriously injured. Greenpeace actions are always peaceful and non-violent.”

“Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan.”

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