March 7, 2019 / 7:43 AM / 4 months ago

Continental AG's full-year earnings hit by electric investments, downturn

A tyre of German tyre company Continental is pictured before the annual news conference in Hanover, Germany,March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Auto supplier Continental AG’s operating profit fell 12 percent last year, hit by an auto industry downturn and higher investments, but it pledged to press ahead with a listing of its powertrain business despite a subdued start to 2019.

Continental said on Thursday its earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) fell to 4.03 billion euros ($4.56 billion) last year, compared with 3.94 billion forecast in a poll but said business this year was slow.

“Fiscal 2019 has got off to a subdued start, as expected, due to continuing market uncertainty,” the company said in a statement, reaffirming its lowered outlook for 2019.

In January, Continental said it expected to post an adjusted operating (EBIT) margin of between 8 and 9 percent, rather than more than 9 percent, blaming a downturn in car markets and higher investments.

“The guidance for 2019 is based in part on the assumption that the global production volume of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles will be stable at 94 million. Production in the first half of the year is likely to be down on last year’s figure,” Continental said.

Continental shares traded 1.3 percent lower on the Frankfurt stock market at 0809 GMT.

Continental is pressing ahead with plans to list its powertrain business in the second half of 2019 and will rebrand the unit “Vitesco Technologies”, the company said.

Continental said it was proposing a dividend of 4.75 euros a share for 2018.

Reporting by Edward Taylor, Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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