Volkswagen AG predicted the first quarter would be worse than a year earlier, adding to a forecast last week that 2013 operating profit probably wouldn’t increase as Europe’s auto market shrinks.
The first quarter 2013 “will be clearly below” the first quarter of last year, Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch said in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung published Saturday. He didn’t provide additional details.
Unchanged earnings this year would mark the first time since 2009 that annual operating profit hasn’t risen. Europe’s largest automaker on Feb. 22 scaled back its 2013 profit forecast from a year-old prediction in its annual report.
VW is counting on the luxury-car segment and on growth in China and the U.S. to help counter declining demand in Europe, where competitors are posting losses amid a recession. Car registrations in Europe last month were the lowest for a January since records began in 1990, following a drop to a 17-year low for all of 2012, industry group ACEA said.
Volkswagen will generate more than 50 percent of group profit this year through its Audi and Porsche brands, Poetsch said in the FAS interview.
Poetsch said the company’s merger with Porsche may generate 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in cost savings, more than Volkswagen’s previous prediction of 700 million euros a year.
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