VW sales, deliveries expected to bounce back big in 2021

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FRANKFURT — Volkswagen Group said it expects revenues and deliveries to rebound strongly in the current year, shrugging off the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The automaker also said its operating profit, stripping out special items related to the diesel scandal, fell 45 percent to 10.6 billion euros ($12.9 billion) last year.

VW is projecting an operating margin of 5 percent to 6.5 percent for 2021 and aiming for the higher end of that range, according to a statement issued after the automaker’s supervisory board meeting on Friday.

“We intend to carry over the strong momentum from the significantly better second half into the current year,” CFO Frank Witter said in the statement. “The programs for reducing our fixed costs and in procurement will make us more robust in the long term,” he said.

VW Group’s vehicle deliveries fell 15 percent to 9.3 million last year.

The company cautioned that intense competition, volatile commodity and foreign exchange markets and tight supply chains would challenge its business.

Despite the 2020 profit drop, VW recommended keeping its dividend to shareholders stable for 2020 versus 2019, when it paid 4.86 euros per preferred share and 4.80 per ordinary share.

Most automakers have come through the global pandemic better than initially feared, led by a sales rebound in China.

The reprieve is proving short-lived, however. A global squeeze on semiconductors is dragging on while commodity prices such as copper are nearing all-time highs, and investors are taking a dim view of companies’ abilities to transform into nimble electric-car leaders.

The pressures are accelerating plans to reorganize. Daimler this month decided to spin off a majority of its trucks business, and VW is weighing a separate listing of its Porsche sports-car brand.

The move would be a watershed moment and help address a stubbornly low valuation that is putting VW at a significant disadvantage to rival Tesla.

VW is developing the industry’s largest fleet of full-electric cars and is significantly boosting software operations.

Bloomberg contributed to this report

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