FRANKFURT Volkswagen (VOWG.DE), the world's third-largest carmaker, reaffirmed its full-year targets on Thursday after posting third-quarter operating profit that just missed expectations despite a boost from one-off items.
A surge in positive currency effects helped offset a deterioration in its gross margins, lifting third-quarter operating profit 1.8 percent to nearly 1.49 billion euros ($1.90 billion), close to the average estimate of 1.51 billion euros from 12 analysts surveyed by Reuters.
"Together with the higher sales revenue resulting from the expected increase in unit sales, this will help lift our operating profit for 2008 above the previous year's figure," it said in its quarterly report.
Net liquidity at the end of September dropped 15 percent, after higher investments and lower operating cash flow meant the company burned 2.41 billion euros in third-quarter net cash flow versus generating a positive 1.95 billion a year earlier.
Its shares rose 7.7 percent by 5:52 a.m. EDT.
Voting shares in Volkswagen closed trading on Tuesday at a record high 945 euros, close to an intraday level that had momentarily made VW the most valuable company in the world. Speculators selling borrowed VW stock had built up short positions amounting to some 13 percent of its votes, only to find out on Sunday that Porsche (PSHG_p.DE) and its banks had drained the market of all but nearly 6 percent of the free float, prompting a stampede to close positions at any cost.
After the shares spiraled as high as 1,000 euros, Porsche sold some of its call options in cash instead of swapping them for stock, allowing their counterparties to pump badly needed VW ordinaries back into the market to calm an outright panic.
Porsche also said on Sunday that it had raised its direct stake in VW ordinaries to 42.6 percent from 35.1 percent and planned to increase this to 75 percent next year in order to submit Volkswagen to a domination agreement that gives Porsche full control over its cash streams.
(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner)