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Volkswagen says coronavirus makes outlook impossible as 2019 profits rise

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Volkswagen Group on Tuesday warned that the spread of the novel coronavirus made it impossible to give an outlook for 2020 as it unveiled a rise in full-year operating profit, boosted by strong sales of sports utility vehicles.

[FRANKFURT] Volkswagen Group on Tuesday warned that the spread of the novel coronavirus made it impossible to give an outlook for 2020 as it unveiled a rise in full-year operating profit, boosted by strong sales of sports utility vehicles.

"The spread of coronavirus is currently impacting the global economy. It is uncertain how severely or for how long this will also affect the Volkswagen Group. Currently, it is almost impossible to make a reliable forecast," chief financial officer Frank Witter said in a statement.

Volkswagen Group said its full-year operating profit rose 22 per cent to 16.9 billion euros (S$26.84 billion) thanks to strong sales of higher-margin cars and lower diesel charges, defying an industry downturn that has cut the earnings of rivals.

Earnings were driven by higher profits at its VW, Porsche, Seat and Skoda brands, and a return to profitability for Bentley.

Improvements in the mix and price positioning in particular compensated for lower sales of Volkswagen Passenger Cars models and for launch costs and negative exchange rate effects, the company said.

REUTERS