* 2012 operating profit hits new record at 11.5 bln euros
* VW cautious on 2013 outlook due to "ongoing uncertainty"
* Market disappointed by 2013 guidance -analyst
(Adds background, analyst comment)
By Andreas Cremer
BERLIN, Feb 22 Volkswagen has scaled
back its forecast for another record year in 2013, a sign that
Europe's biggest carmaker is beginning to feel the impact of
Europe's shrinking auto markets.
The German car company's sales have held up better than
rivals such as Peugeot in Europe, where sales reached
a new low in January due to the weak economic climate which has
squeezed consumer spending.
VW's goal for 2013 is now to match the record 11.5 billion
euro ($15.21 billion) operating profit for 2012 it reported in
results published on Friday.
"We're not completely immune to the intense competition and
the impact this has on business," VW said. "While we shall see
positive effects from our attractive model range and strong
market position, there will also be increasingly stiff
competition in a challenging market environment."
VW is feeling the effects of the crisis in its home region
after resisting most of last year's European slump, taking
market share from rivals.
Sales of VW's main namesake brand, accounting for almost a
third of group profit, plunged 12.3 percent in western Europe
The group had previously targeted higher underlying earnings
for 2013 due to an easing of start-up costs from an engineering
revamp. The consolidation of sports-car maker Porsche, bought by
VW last August, was also expected to fuel profits.
"The guidance (for 2013) is definitely on the conservative
side, clearly below market expectations," said Frankfurt-based
Equinet AG analyst Tim Schuldt.
Still, Wolfsburg-based VW is counting on a strong presence
in overseas markets to shrug off effects of the European crisis.
Both vehicle sales and revenue may exceed last year's record
levels of 9.1 million and 192.7 billion euros respectively, the
The group's shares were down 6.2 percent by 1626 GMT.
Analysts said the fall also reflected disappointment over VW's
planned dividend of 3.56 euros per preference share, short of
the 3.85 euros expected on average in a Reuters poll.
($1 = 0.7563 euros)
(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford
and Jane Merriman)