Volkswagen, Europe's biggest car maker, on July 28 posted more than three-fold leaps in net profit, but its shares were still hammered as some observers wondered if it had peaked.
VW's second quarter net profit of 4.784 billion euros (US$$6.86 billion), up from 1.351 billion in the same period of 2010, dwarfed an average analyst forecast of around 2.5% compiled by Dow Jones Newswires.
It was accompanied by a first half net profit of 6.496 billion euros, up from 1.824 billion.
Second-quarter 2011 operating profit soared by 59.2% to 3.17 billion euros on a 14.6% rise in deliveries to 2.14 billion vehicles.
But investors were clearly not impressed. Shares in the auto giant plunged in midday trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange, losing 5.76% to 135.75 euros while the DAX index was down by 1.57% overall.
"Volkswagen's results are very good," said NordLB auto analyst Franck Schwope.But the shares might have fallen, he said, because "some think the group is at a high point and cannot do any better."
Schwope himself said he felt that VW, which wants to become the world's biggest automaker by 2018, still had room to grow.
Meanwhile, second-quarter sales were 21.5% higher at almost 40.3 billion euros, and reached nearly 77.8 billion for the first half, VW said.
Chairman Martin Winterkorn said that "ongoing strong demand in strategically important markets is providing a tailwind" and that a large number of new models would help sustain results going forward.
VW currently owns nine brands of automobiles, ranging from luxury cars such as Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini to more affordable ones like Seat, Skoda and of course VW itself. VW also owns controlling stakes in two truck makers, Scania and MAN, which it wants to merge into a heavy vehicle powerhouse.
But Winterkorn also cautioned that "the coming months will be challenging for us and will require us to work hard to maintain this high level."
VW said it expected full-year 2011 deliveries to surpass the record 2010 level of 7.14 million, and that sales and operating profit would be "significantly higher than the previous year."
Those figures were 126.8 billion euros and 7.1 billion, respectively.
Winterkorn has already forecast that VW could sell eight million vehicles this year, thanks in large part to its strong position in major emerging markets.
The group put its net cash position on June 30 at 19.4 billion euros, a gain of 11.1% from the first half of 2010 despite investments in MAN, the Porsche Holding company and a stake in the auto-parts maker SG Carbon.
There are some clouds on the horizon however. A plan to tie up with Suzuki to profit from its position in India has hit some bumps. And there is still uncertainty over VW's plans to merge with another Porsche company -- the one that actually makes the iconic 911 sports cars.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011