SHANGHAI (Reuters) -- German sports carmaker Porsche AG said Tuesday that it expected to post 7 to 15 percent growth in global sales for the fiscal year, banking on strong sales of its Cayenne SUV.
The world's most profitable carmaker is also still confident of reporting record profits for the last fiscal year, which ended on July 31, board member Hans Riedel said at the opening of a showroom in Shanghai, the financial stronghold of China.
"We have had a roll of six absolute record years, and I'm quite confident we're going to have another one for the last fiscal year," said Riedel, responsible for sales and marketing.
"With the products that we have coming in, we should sell 70,000 to 75,000 cars in this fiscal year which has just started," the executive told Reuters. Porsche had sales of about 65,000 units in the last fiscal year.
But with sales of its 911 and Boxster sports cars slowing in the United States and Europe, Porsche is itching to grab a slice of China's nascent luxury car market.
The sales forecast offered by Porsche, which has been riding strong on sales of its recently introduced Cayenne SUV, was a shade less upbeat than in June, when it predicted sales of about 75,000 units in the current fiscal year.
An analyst said that though its newest target was feasible, Porsche faced rising competition in its core sports car market.
"The main driver will be the Cayenne, and the Boxster will not fare as well," said Michael Raab, an auto analyst at private bank Sal Oppenheim in Frankfurt. He rates the stock "neutral."
As its sports car sales fall, Porsche is already considering a smaller version of the Cayenne, Riedel added.
It is also looking to develop the China market to propel sales in Asia, opening its first showroom in the country in the capital Beijing in February 2001.
At the group's shiny new showcase at the heart of downtown Shanghai, passers-by will be able to gawk at cars that a vast majority will never be able to afford.
Porsche has sold 14 cars alone in Shanghai in the past two weeks, and hopes to sell 150 nationwide in 2003. But the mainland market still pales in comparison with Hong Kong, where about 2,000 Porsches elbow for space on its cramped roads.
Shanghai is the richest city in China with annual per capita disposable income of $894.1, but a 911 Carrera Coupe can set you back $179,000.
Getting behind the wheel of a high-performance sports car is still a rarity in China, especially with congestion, poor roads and manic fellow drivers common in the cities.
But a small but growing band of the self-made super-rich are developing appetites for high-performance cars.
"Our average customer's age is about a decade younger than for our competitors," Riedel said, referring to rivals such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG.