Audi with clearly positive operating profit in first quarter
120th Annual General Meeting of AUDI AG
- Operating profit of €363 million in first quarter
- Audi significantly extends market leadership in Western Europe
- Audi Chairman Stadler: “We are in a much stronger position on the market than our competitors”
Following a very successful 2008 fiscal year, the company's 13th consecutive record year, the Audi Group began this year by recording a significant operating profit for the first quarter, despite the ongoing global economic crisis. "Despite the difficult economic conditions, we are outperforming the overall market. Our Strategy 2015, which is all about sustained, profitable growth, is paying dividends in this time of crisis," said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, at today's 120th Annual General Meeting in Neckarsulm. "We will systematically continue our model initiative in 2009," Stadler assured stockholders.
Contrary to the automotive industry's general downward trend, Audi began this fiscal year relatively well in numerous markets. During the first four months of this year, the company delivered 292,003 vehicles to customers worldwide for a yearon- year decrease of 13.6 percent.
In Western Europe, Audi sold 52,650 cars in April (2008: 57,789) - a decline of 8.9 percent. The brand thus fared much better than its key competitors and the overall market. Its market share of 4.7 percent also puts Audi at the top of Western Europe's premium segment. "This success shows that we have the right products on the market and that they are popular with customers. We are therefore continuing our model initiative at unabated speed in 2009 and investing around €2 billion in new, innovative products and efficient engines," underscored Axel Strotbek, Member of the Board of Management for Finance and Organization at AUDI AG.
In the United States, Audi was able to increase its market share in the premium segment in April by 2.6 percentage points to 9.2 percent. Audi sold 22,818 vehicles in the United States (2008: 28,286) from January through April, for a year-on-year drop of 19.3 percent.
Audi also consolidated its leading position in China's premium segment (including Hong Kong). Sales there rose in April to 12,156 units (2008: 10,028), for Audi's best month ever in China. "Audi has maintained a presence in China since 1988. The very encouraging current development in this remarkably important market proves that our farsighted entrepreneurial approach pays off all the more during difficult economic times," said Stadler.
As for the Audi brand's financial future, Stadler strikes an optimistic tone: "On the whole, we are experiencing an upward trend. Our monthly results have improved continuously since January, which was a difficult month for everybody. We are currently experiencing a significant rise in orders - not in the least due to our product initiative."
Economic factors drag down operating profit
As a result of the drop in vehicle sales due to economic trends, revenue during the first three months dropped from €8,294 million to €6,700 million. Ongoing productivity and process enhancements as well as Audi's uncompromising cost management have been redoubled during this fiscal year. It was not possible, however, to fully compensate for negative economic forces. The Audi Group's operating profit fell to €363 million (2008: €514 million) for the first quarter. "The first quarter developed much as we expected and provides us with a solid basis for reaching our target of posting significantly positive results for 2009," explained Strotbek.
Model initiative continues
The company is expanding its appealing portfolio to 42 models by 2015 and is proceeding with its product initiative in 2009. New models have already been presented this year, including the Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro mid-engined sports car, the Sportback concept, the Audi TT RS, and the Audi A4 allroad quattro. Audi has also added the sporty Audi S4 and S4 Avant models to its product portfolio. The new Audi A5 Cabriolet was launched in early April and the newgeneration Audi Q7 will join the family in July.
100 additional places for new apprentices during Audi's centenary year
Audi is an innovative brand which is committed to Germany as an industrial location. That's why it is grooming the employees of tomorrow by training them today. Signed by the company's management and the General Works Council in 2005, the "Audi Future" agreement guarantees jobs for permanent staff through 2011. Audi will not institute a hiring freeze. The company hired 150 specialists in the first quarter - mainly for Technical Development - and will hire more this year. Audi relies not only on engineers, but also on highly specialized skilled workers. The company is offering an additional 100 places for apprentices this year (2008: 682).
"This proves once again that we are strengthening the sustainability of our company and confirming our strategic plan to become the most attractive employer in the automotive industry," said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. These additional apprentices will mainly be working in fields such as electronics and mechatronics, in order to strengthen these innovation areas in the company. After all, the brand with the four rings will broaden its portfolio to 42 models by 2015.
High employee profit share following record-breaking 2008
AUDI AG is again allowing all employees to share in the company's success this year. The profit-sharing program will pay out an average of 5,300 euros per employee in 2009.
Brand image plays a particularly important role during difficult economic times. Audi received 91 awards in 2008 alone, including the renowned European Inventor of the Year award for Audi Space Frame technology. And the company has picked up in 2009 right where it left off last year. ADAC, the German automobile club, once again presented its Gelber Engel award for best image to the brand with the four rings. Audi also defended its status as the most successful premium brand in Germany's fleet market by winning several fleet awards (Audi A4, Audi A6, Audi Q5, and Audi Q7). Furthermore, according to the latest breakdown statistics from ADAC, three of the brand's models triumphed as the most reliable vehicles in their respective vehicle classes: the Audi A2, A3, and A6. In the midsize category, the Audi A4 moved up in the rankings to capture second place.
Record results in 2008 for vehicle sales, revenue, and profit
For the 13th consecutive fiscal year, Audi broke records in 2008: The brand sold a total of 1,003,469 (2007: 964,151) vehicles worldwide in 2008. The Audi Group also generated remarkable revenue figures. With revenue of €34,196 million (2007: 33,617 million), the Audi Group achieved year-on-year growth of 1.7 percent. Pre-tax profit also set a historic record: €3,177 million (2007: 2,915 million), an increase of 9.0 percent. The strong performance in the 2008 fiscal year is also reflected in the improved return on sales before tax, which climbed from 8.7 to 9.3 percent. Last but not least, the return on investment improved to 19.8 (2007: 18.6) percent.
AUDI AG sold a total of 1,003,469 cars in 2008 and thus achieved its 13th consecutive record year. The Company posted new record figures with revenue of €34.2 billion and profit before tax of €3.2 billion. Audi produces vehicles in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm (Germany), Györ (Hungary), Changchun (China) and Brussels (Belgium). Aurangabad in India saw the start of CKD production of the Audi A6 at the end of 2007 and of the Audi A4 in early October 2008. The Company is active in more than 100 markets worldwide. AUDI AG's wholly owned subsidiaries include Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A. in Sant'Agata Bolognese (Italy) and quattro GmbH in Neckarsulm. Audi currently employs around 58,000 people worldwide, including 46,500 in Germany. The brand with the four rings invests around €2 billion each year in order to sustain the company's technological lead embodied in its "Vorsprung durch Technik" slogan. Audi plans to significantly increase the number of models in its portfolio by 2015 to 42. The AUDI brand celebrates its 100th birthday in 2009. The company was founded by August Horch in Zwickau on July 16, 1909; he named it AUDI after the Latin translation of his surname ("hark!").