VW sees steady profits in 2018 results

German car giant Volkswagen on Friday reported steady operating profit and rising revenues in 2018, but said its "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal again inflicted one-off costs of €3.2 billion ($3.6 billion).

VW sees steady profits in 2018 results
VWs on display at the 2019 The North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month. Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP
Operating profit inched up 0.1 billion euros to 13.9 billion last year, the Wolfsburg-based group said in preliminary results, released unexpectedly ahead of its March 12 annual earnings press conference.
Meanwhile the sprawling 12-brand conglomerate increased unit sales by 0.9 percent to 10.8 million vehicles, a new yearly record — powering annual revenues up 2.7 percent at €235.8 billion.
Chief executive Herbert Diess hailed a “good showing in 2018, especially against the background of the switch to WLTP”, new emissions tests that proved a massive bottleneck for the whole industry from their introduction in September.
VW was particularly happy to hit the high end of its profit margin target, at 7.3 percent — slightly down on 2017's level. But the group said it also spent €3.2 billion — the same amount as the previous year — in one-off costs related to its 2015 admission to cheating on regulatory tests for 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.
VW's preliminary results release came on the same day as a non-binding opinion from the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), Germany's highest tribunal, on claims against the firm over manipulated vehicles.
Senior judges leaned towards backing customers' claims against Volkswagen, potentially pointing the way for future deliberations in lower courts over the 2.4 million such cars sold in Germany.
Despite the legal risks and the costs of a massive push for new electric and hybrid models, the supervisory and executive boards proposed an increased dividend of 4.80 euros per share, up from 3.90 for 2017.
Looking ahead to 2019, the group said it would “slightly exceed” last year's unit sales figure despite challenges from a slowing economy, intensifying competition and volatile exchange rates.
Revenues should increase by up to 5.0 percent year-on-year and operating profit between 6.5 and 7.5 percent, bosses forecast.
Investors appeared unmoved by the positive results announcement, with VW shares shedding 0.64 percent to trade at €145.64 late Friday afternoon in Frankfurt.

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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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