* 2012 operating profit plunges 35 pct to 964 mln euros
* Expects group sales to fall “slightly” this year
* European truck sales to keep shrinking in 2013 (Adds background, company comment)
BERLIN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Germany’s MAN SE is bracing for a sharp drop in profit this year as truck sales in core European markets may keep falling amid the region’s prolonged economic weakness.
Operating profit at the Volkswagen-owned truck maker, which also includes its diesel and turbines businesses, may post a “disproportionate” drop in 2013, the company said on Friday, adding that group sales may decline “slightly”.
The Munich-based company said operating profit plunged 35 percent last year to 964 million euros ($1.29 billion), beating a 916-million euro forecast by 11 analysts in a Reuters survey.
Sales declined 4 percent to 15.8 billion euros, in line with expectations.
The euro zone debt crisis and stricter emission standards in Brazil “created noticeable uncertainty in MAN’s key markets”, the company said.
Heavy-duty truck makers have been mired in problems for months as the fiscal crisis in the single-currency area and sluggish activity in North America have weighed heavily on the highly cyclical demand for commercial vehicles.
Sales of heavy-duty trucks weighing 16 metric tons or more fell 9.4 percent across the 27-nation European Union to 214,086 vehicles last year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. ($1 = 0.7469 euros) (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)