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VW sees weak 2009 outlook and Porsche profit falls

Volkswagen forecast lower 2009 earnings on Monday as its majority shareholder Porsche reported a fall in first-half operating profit.

With carmakers worldwide still reeling from a sharp industry downturn, latest auto sales figures showed no let-up in the crisis as industry executives from around the world gathered in Geneva for the annual motor show.

Japanese car sales were down 24.3% in February, while French sales fell 13.1% and sales in Spain were down 48.8% on a year ago. In Italy new car registrations were expected to show a sharp fall, though orders should see a boost from state aid, study group Promotor said.

VW said 2008 operating profit rose 3% to €6.33 billion, beating an average forecast of 6.14 billion from analysts polled by Reuters, on revenue up 4.5% to 113.81 billion. But the company expected a profit decline this year.

“The high volatility of market developments does not currently permit any reliable forecasts to be made for fiscal year 2009,” Europe’s biggest carmaker said. “Based on the extremely weak business at the beginning of the year, earnings will not reach the high levels of previous years.”

NEW FINANCING

Manufacturers, some of which are relying on government aid earmarked for research into emissions-cutting technologies, are expected to put the spotlight on their green initiatives at the Geneva show.

Mitsubishi Motors said it would work with France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen on a new electric car.

In Germany, Porsche said it suffered a decline in first-half operating profit but said earnings rose thanks to gains from its Volkswagen stake. It gave no figures ahead of results due at the end of March. The manufacturer also said its talks to secure €10 billion of new financing were on track to finish before a financing package expires this month. (Reuters)