MUNICH -- Volkswagen Group offered a cautious earnings and sales forecast for 2018 after nearly doubling profit last year -- helped by record sales of Audi and Porsche models and cost cuts at its VW brand.
Group operating profit after special items jumped to 13.8 billion euros ($17 billion) last year from 7.1 billion euros, VW said in a statement on Friday. Operating return on sales rose to 6.0 percent from 3.3 percent.
Operating profit before special items rose 17 percent to 17 billion euros. Special items related to its emissions scandal were 3.2 billion euros. Operating return on sales before special items increased to 7.4 percent from 6.7 percent.
VW highlighted several risks to its improved outlook, including more potential issues around diesel and a “slight” slowdown in global economic growth.
“Looking ahead, we -- like the entire industry -- are facing major challenges and radical change,” VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller said in the statement.
VW expects a return on sales for 2018 of between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent, and revenue to exceed 2017 levels by up to 5 percent, but the forecast depends on a number of factors that could derail its plans.
It cited tightening emissions rules, exchange rate shifts and the transition automakers are trying to pull off as they switch from combustion engines to more electric models. There is also the ongoing burden of the diesel-emissions cheating scandal that’s hurt profit the last two years.
"This is a cautious outlook compared with last year's result and, like its peers, Volkswagen isn’t going out on a limb,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Bankhaus Metzler.
VW said record deliveries of 10.7 million vehicles last year lifted sales revenue by 6.2 percent to 231 billion euros. It expects to "moderately exceed" the delivery record this year.
Last year, the automaker reduced costs at its core VW brand after reaching a deal with unions in late 2016 to eliminate tens of thousands of jobs in a drive to maintain earnings.
It has budgeted 20 billion euros ($25 billion) through 2030 to develop electric versions of all 300 cars, trucks and buses sold by its dozen brands and buy their batteries.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report