* CEO raises sales growth view to close to 10 pct from 5 pct
* H1 operating profit 1.21 bln SEK vs year-ago loss of 577
* Strong demand in China, Europe offsets U.S. weakness
* H1 revenues 64.8 bln vs 56.4 bln yr earlier
(Adds CEO interview, background)
By Niklas Pollard
STOCKHOLM, Aug 20 Chinese-owned Volvo Car Group
raised its outlook for 2014 sales after returning to profit in
the first half as strong growth in China and a moderate upturn
in Europe more than offset lingering weakness in the United
Gothenburg-based Volvo, one of Sweden's top exporters and
employers though a small player in the global autos industry,
saw demand gain traction during the end of last year and figures
on Wednesday showed momentum had carried into 2014.
After a 9-percent rise in sales for the first seven months
of 2014, Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said he saw sales
growing "close to 10 percent" this year compared to a previous
forecast of "a good 5 percent".
Bought by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. from
Ford Motor Co. in 2010, Volvo has ambitious sales goals
aimed at helping fund investment needed to take on larger
"We came in at nearly 10 percent in the first half and for
the full year we expect growth to continue at that level,"
Samuelsson told Reuters, pointing to continued expansion in
"We will continue to grow faster than the market (in China)
if at a slightly slower pace. We expect to have a volume of a
bit more than 80,000 cars in China this year," he said.
Lifted by China as well as recovering volumes in Europe,
Volvo reported operating earnings of 1.21 billion crowns ($176.5
million) for the first half versus a loss of 577 million a year
Revenues rose 15 percent to 64.8 billion.
The company aims to nearly double annual sales to 800,000
cars by 2020 and make inroads in a premium market dominated by
rivals such as Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and BMW
Volvo this month is launching its XC90 SUV, the first fully
new car developed under its Chinese ownership, and has said it
plans to price its new premium cars at the same level as those
of its German competitors.
While its Chinese business is taking off, a lack of new
models has seen Volvo's U.S. sales fall to roughly half of what
they were a decade ago, totalling only 61,233 cars last year.
"In the U.S. our target is to keep volumes flat (this year).
We face large challenges there and they will remain," Samuelsson
said. "I feel there are some initial positive indications there
so I would hope that toward the end of the year we will be able
to see some first positive signs also in terms of sales."
(1 US dollar = 6.8541 Swedish crown)
(Additional reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Jason