FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen AG said on Wednesday it expected the first quarter to be the low point in its pre-tax profit development in the current year.
"We would think that the first quarter is going to be the lowest point in terms of profit before tax," VW finance chief Bruno Adelt told an analysts' conference call.
VW warned on Tuesday its operating profit would fall this year if current weak demand and unfavorable exchange rates persist, and said the result for the first quarter of 2003 would be significantly below the previous year.
Its bearishness on the first three months of the year, not traditionally its weakest, heightened investor concerns about the extent of the group's profit shortfall over the year as a whole.
VW's outlook is more negative than French carmakers PSA Peugeot-Citroen, which aims to raise its profit margins this year, and Renault, which expects to keep them stable. Germany's DaimlerChrysler has also said it expects to raise its operating profit this year.