The Volkswagen Group has brought the 2018 fiscal year to a successful conclusion. Based on sales revenue of EUR 235.8 billion – a rise of EUR 6.3 billion – the operating profit before special items of EUR 17.1 (17.0) billion was on a level with the previous year. At 7.3 percent (7.4 percent), the operating return on sales before special items was at the upper end of the target range set for 2018. The operating profit stood at EUR 13.9 (13.8) billion; as in the previous year, the figure was negatively impacted by special items of EUR 3.2 (3.2) billion in connection with the diesel issue. Net liquidity in the Automobile Division was again robust, at EUR 19.4 (22.4) billion. The Board of Management and the Supervisory Board propose an increase in dividend to EUR 4.80 (3.90) per ordinary share and EUR 4.86 (3.96) per preferred share.
Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, explained: “We put in a decent showing in 2018, especially against the backdrop of the changeover to the WLTP, which led to considerable upheaval in our sales performance. The headwinds in key markets are expected to strengthen further in 2019. Our e-offensive will gather momentum as new models are launched. Overall, however, we will have to redouble our efforts to meet our ambitious targets in the new fiscal year.”
The Group’s continued positive operational performance in 2018 was carried by a slight overall increase in the number of vehicles delivered. Worldwide, the Volkswagen Group’s deliveries to customers increased by 0.9 percent to 10.8 million vehicles – a new record. Growth was recorded in particular in Europe, South America and the Asia-Pacific region. Volume and mix improvements had a positive impact on sales revenue, offset to a small extent by exchange rates. Profit before tax went up to EUR 15.6 (13.7) billion and the share of operating profit attributable to the Chinese joint ventures was similar to the prior-year level, at EUR 4.6 (4.7) billion.
Net liquidity in the Automobile Division was again robust, at EUR 19.4 (22.4) billion. Net cash flow in the Automotive Division was EUR –0.3 billion and, as expected, significantly better than in the previous year (EUR –6.0 billion). Lower cash outflows in connection with the diesel issue were, however, set against a WLTP-related increase in inventories and receivables. The research and development (R&D) ratio stood at 6.8 percent, after 6.7 percent in the previous year. The capex ratio was 6.6 percent, compared with 6.5 percent a year earlier. “Our operating business proved resilient once again and we are satisfied with the overall result. Sales revenue performance benefited from an improved mix, while currency effects had a negative effect. The Group’s financial situation remains solid. The Group's ongoing transformation in connection with the electrification and digitalization of the fleet will once again require tight cost discipline in 2019.” says Frank Witter, member of the Group Board of Management responsible for Finance and IT.
Volkswagen expects that deliveries to customers of the Volkswagen Group in 2019 will slightly exceed the prior-year figure amid continuously challenging market conditions. Challenges will arise particularly from the economic situation, the increasing intensity of competition, exchange rate volatility and stricter WLTP requirements. Volkswagen expects the sales revenues of the Volkswagen Group to grow by as much as 5% year-on-year. In terms of the operating profit for the Group and the Passenger Cars Business Area, Volkswagen forecasts an operating return on sales in the range of 6.5–7.5% in 2019. For the Commercial Vehicles Business Area, an operating return on sales of between 6.0–7.0% is anticipated. In the Power Engineering Business Area, a loss around the previous year’s level amid a slight rise in sales revenue is expected. For the Financial Services Division, Volkswagen is forecasting a moderate increase in sales revenues and anoperating profit at the prior-year level.
In the Automotive Division, the R&D ratio and the ratio of capex to sales revenue will probably fluctuate in the range of 6.5–7.0 percent in 2019. Cash outflows resulting from the diesel issue will negatively impact the cash flow again in 2019 but, as things stand at present, the effect will be substantially lower than in the reporting period. Consequently, we anticipate a positive net cash flow for 2019 that will be up significantly on the prior-year figure.