Volkswagen earnings double in 2011 as sales top 8 million image

Automaker Volkswagen AG said Friday that its net earnings more than doubled in 2011 as worldwide sales topped the eight million mark for the first time.

It reported net profit of 15.8bn euros (£13.4bn; $21.2bn) for last year, compared with 7.2bn euros in 2010.

It delivered more than 8.2 million vehicles, up almost 15% on 2010.

Volkswagen’s record sales put it behind General Motors’ 9.03 million vehicles in the No.2 spot worldwide, ahead of Toyota Motor, which was hamstrung by the earthquake and tsunami disaster last March. But VW’s net profit was almost triple the $7.6 billion G.M. earned last year .

The company, which is to release its full earnings report on March 12, gave no fourth-quarter figures.
In the wake of its strong performance, VW said it would pay an increased dividend of €3 per ordinary share and €3.06 per preference share for 2011.

“There’s not a real positive surprise, so there might be some disappointment,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler.

“The quality of the earnings is probably better, but more explanation is needed.”

Shares in Volkswagen edged 0.4 percent lower to 138.60 euros by 1100 GMT, trailing a European autos sector that gained 0.6 percent.

The figures are only preliminary and full 2011 earnings will be released at VW’s annual news conference on March 12.