PARIS - PSA/Peugeot-Citroen reported a sharp rise in 1999 profits and predicted more growth in 2000.
PSA's 1999 sales climbed by 12 percent to A37.8 billion, and its operating profits jumped 53 percent to A1.67 billion. Net profits soared by 50 percent to A729 million.
The French group wants to accelerate its expansion in the next four years. PSA said investment would total A10.8 billion between 2000 and 2003 - an annual expenditure of A2.7 billion, compared with A2 billion in 1999.
Research and development expenses will be boosted by 10 percent in 2000, from about A1.3 billion last year.
Speaking at a press conference here, Chairman Jean-Martin Folz said he wants PSA to build 2.7 million units this year. The company made just over 2.5 million units in 1999. Folz said PSA would quickly move to the 3-million-unit mark, most likely in 2001.
Cost reductions will continue, Folz said, after cuts worth A840 million in 1999. As a result, PSA's operating margin should reach A1.9 billion this year, he added.
Folz also confirmed that Citroen's C3, C6 and Pluriel concepts were not produced simply for display at auto shows.
'Citroen will actually make these cars,' he said.
Folz once again denied plans for an alliance with DaimlerChrysler.
'We have not been approached by DaimlerChrysler about any merger or acquisition. I wish this speculation would end,' he said.
Pierre Peugeot, PSA supervisory board chairman and the head of main shareholder family, refuted reports that some members of the controlling family would consider selling all or part of PSA.
'Those rumors are getting irritating,' said Peugeot. 'It's indecent to play yo-yo with the stock price of a listed company. No specific 1/8family problem' has happened since those rumors spread. The family group is united and, for my own part, I am in perfect symbiosis with Jean-Martin Folz.'
Reuters News Service contributed