Renault vows to stay in black after 2012 profit fall

PARIS Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:34am EST

PARIS Feb 14 (Reuters) - French carmaker Renault pledged to increase full-year sales and stay in the black after profit fell 15 percent in 2012, weighed down by shrinking European auto demand.

Net income group share fell to 1.77 billion euros ($2.38 billion) on a 3.2 percent decline in revenue to 41.27 billion, Renault said in a statement on Thursday.

Operating profit will stay positive in 2013, excluding one-time gains and charges, after falling one-third to 729 million euros last year for an operating margin of 1.8 percent, Renault said. The core auto division nonetheless swung to a 25 million loss.

Renault also said it saw global sales picking up after a 6.3 percent decline to 2.55 million vehicles in 2012, against the backdrop of a 3 percent further market contraction expected in Europe.

The carmaker said it would propose a dividend payment of 1.72 euros, largely reflecting income from its 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, increasing last year's 1.16 euro payout.

December's 1.48 billion-euro sale of Renault's remaining stake in Volvo enabled the French carmaker to eliminate its net debt and report the auto division's first postiive cash position since 1999. ($1 = 0.7442 euros) (Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by James Regan)