Volkswagen made $12 billion in 2020 despite the pandemic

Volkswagen is walking away from 2020 with a profit of more than $12 billion despite the coronavirus pandemic that torpedoed car sales and snarled manufacturing supply chains.

The world’s largest automaker said in a statement on Friday that it expects operating profit of €10 billion ($12.2 billion) for 2020, a performance helped by a strong finish to the year.

After losing €1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) in the first six months of 2020, Volkswagen “proved to be quite robust in the second half,” it added. Fourth quarter deliveries “continued to recover strongly” and outpaced the previous three months.

Volkswagen made nearly twice as much money in 2019, posting a profit of €19.3 billion ($23.5 billion) on sales of €252 billion ($306.6 billion). But shares in the company jumped as much as 6% in Frankfurt on Friday, suggesting that investors were expecting an even more precipitous drop in earnings.

Carmakers suffered a collapse in sales and disruption in supply chains during the early months of the pandemic. They are now facing a critical shortage of semiconductors that threatens to hamstring production just as the industry tries to stage a comeback.

Volkswagen has had to adapt production at plants in China, North America and Europe this quarter and could lose out on 100,000 units, or roughly 4% of global quarterly output, as a result of the components shortages, according to UBS analysts.

The German carmaker, which also owns the Audi and Porsche brands, said last week that it “slightly expanded” its share of the worldwide passenger car market in 2020. It delivered 9.3 million vehicles, a drop of 15.2% from 2019. Deliveries held up better in China, its single largest market, declining 9% compared with a 20% slump in Europe.

Deliveries of battery electric vehicles hit 231,600, more than three times the volume in 2019. Plug-in hybrid deliveries surged 175% to 190,500 units.

It appears that traditional carmakers “can manage the transition to electric mobility much better than feared,” Bernstein senior analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said in a note to clients on Friday. “Investors need to wake up to the excessively low valuation of traditional car makers, especially in the context of valuation for everything ‘new mobility,'” he added.

Despite making just 500,000 vehicles in 2020, electric car leader Tesla is worth $800 billion, eight times Volkswagen’s market capitalization.

In his very first tweet this week, and perhaps as a sign of growing confidence at the German industrial giant, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess mentioned the company’s push into electric vehicles, tagging Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Blogs