VW cuts 2012 sales target on weak Europe
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German carmaker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) has cut its internal 2012 sales target slightly and by less than the 300,000 vehicles cited in a German newspaper, because of tough markets in Europe.
"Due to the continued tense market situation in western Europe, we have made slight adjustments but not nearly to the extent that is being speculated about at the moment," a spokesman for Europe's largest carmaker said on Friday.
German daily Handelsblatt reported that VW, which has not published a full-year sales target, had cut its expectations for full-year sales by 300,000 vehicles to 9.4 million globally.
The paper cited company sources as saying VW cut its expectation for sales in Europe by 250,000 vehicles.
"The figures reported by Handelsblatt have no basis," the VW spokesman said.
Volkswagen, on course to overtake U.S. rival General Motors (GM.N) this year as the world No.2, aims to sell a world-leading 10 million vehicles by 2018, up from the 8.36 million recorded last year, and push past Japanese group Toyota (7201.T).
Silvia Quandt analyst Albrecht Denninghoff said if the 9.4 million target reported by Handelsblatt were true, it would imply 12 percent growth and leave VW well on its way to the 10 million target. "We do not think that investors should be scared by such a small growth deceleration," he said.
VW said last month group deliveries rose 9.1 percent in the first eight months to 5.19 million, adding that the economic situation in Western Europe was still tense.
On Sunday, VW had denied a German magazine report it was bracing for a slump in the economy and had told suppliers it may cut production by 10 percent in the European autumn.
VW suffered a second-quarter slowdown in underlying profit growth, partly because Europe's deepening debt crisis weighed on its earnings.
VW shares were up 0.9 percent at 6:55 a.m. EDT (1055 GMT), with a European auto index .SXAP up 1.2 percent.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan and Jan Schwartz; Editing by Dan Lalor)
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