WOLFSBURG, Germany Volkswagen (VOWG.DE), the world's third largest carmaker, said again that vehicle sales, revenue and earnings would all decline this year as a crisis in the auto industry continues.
"A difficult 2009 lies ahead of us -- one of the most difficult years in our company's history," Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said in a speech ahead of the group's annual news conference in Wolfsburg.
Finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch said no one could predict when the crisis would end, but management is already positioning Volkswagen for the recovery. "We do not yet appear to have reached the bottom," he said.
After placing a 3.5 billion euro ($4.47 billion) bond at the start of the year -- its second largest in the group's history -- VW's CFO said it had secured a significant portion of expected refinancing needs for this year.
Earlier this month, Volkswagen unveiled record results for 2008 as well as a cash cushion of 8 billion euros at its automotive business, but warned that revenue and profit would decline this year after an extremely weak start to the year.
Porsche SE (PSHG_p.DE) took majority control of VW at the start of this year and has used derivative hedges to secure control of nearly 75 percent, a threshold it wants to cross this year if conditions are right.
(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner)