Volkswagen boosts earnings in 2022, high inventory drags down cash flow

By Victoria Waldersee

  • Volkswagen posts 8.1% earnings margin in 2022, hits forecast
  • Sales, earnings above 2021 levels
  • Net cash flow approx 3.6 bln eur below target
  • Carmaker sitting on unfinished goods, raw materials
  • Expect lower working capital in 2023 -statement

BERLIN, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) earnings margin was at the upper end of its forecast for 2022 at 8.1%, with sales and earnings above 2021 levels despite supply-chain turmoil dragging its net cash flow far below target, the carmaker said on Tuesday.

Earnings of 22.5 billion euros ($24.11 billion) put Volkswagen at the higher end of the 7-8.5% margin it had forecast in March of last year, with sales beating 2021 figures at around 279 billion euros compared with 250.2 billion the year prior.

 Still, net cash flow came to only around 5 billion euros, under the target of matching 2021’s 8.6 billion euros, which the company blamed on an unstable supply chain leaving it sitting on high inventories of unfinished goods, supplies and materials.

“Current planning for 2023 suggests that this year-end 2022 increase in working capital will largely reverse during the year,” it added in its statement.

 The Volkswagen Group’s deliveries were up 12% in the second half of 2022, it reported in January, but full-year deliveries were the lowest in over a decade as COVID-19 lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine upended supply chains.

Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz said in October that the carmaker had 150,000 unfinished vehicles in its inventory and was stocking up on supplies to protect against further shortages, pushing up prices and cutting costs to make up for lower unit sales.

 Ford Motor Co (F.N) last week attributed a fall in quarterly profit to supply-chain issues including the ongoing lack of chips leading to lower-than-expected volumes, forecasting lower pre-tax profit for 2023.

Volkswagen also warned in January that the outlook for 2023 remained clouded by weak economies and supply-chain shortages.

($1 = 0.9331 euro)

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee in Berlin Editing by Thomas Escritt and Matthew Lewis