FRANKFURT -- German luxury carmaker Porsche reported solid car sales for the 10 months to May, but concerns over a poorer mix of models led investors to take profits after the stock reached a record high this week.
Porsche said on Friday that revenue growth lagged sales due to unfavorable exchange rates and a greater share of deliveries of lower-priced sports cars and offroaders.
Earnings were "good", it added, but a spokesman for the company declined to clarify whether that meant profits rose.
Porsche did not provide concrete guidance for full-year results, even though its fiscal 2004/05 year ends next month.
Porsche maintained forecasts for car sales of more than 80,000 units, revenue growth and a "continued high level of earnings".
It posted pretax profits of 1.09 billion euros ($1.33 billion) and 6.36 billion in revenue in the 2003/2004 fiscal year on sales of 76,827 vehicles.
CSFB analyst Harald Hendrikse said the stock remained one of his two top picks in the sector, but added that "for short-term investors, the figures did not provide a new catalyst so the stock could continue to ease a bit".
DECEIVING AT FIRST GLANCE
Porsche, which boasts the fattest margins across the carmaking industry, posted a 13.3 percent rise in unit sales to 69,685 vehicles in the first 10 months, but turnover managed to grow only 5.4 percent to 5.34 billion euros.
Deliveries of its iconic sports 911 sports car increased 21 percent to 22,973 units, while 33,997 Cayenne offroaders left dealer lots, 6.6 percent more than a year ago.
Sales of the Boxster, Porsche's mid-engine roadster, rose 16 percent to 12,166 units, while the company delivered 549 Carrera GT super-sports cars versus 124 last year.
"While unit mix appears fine on the surface, weaker underlying mix within model ranges -- for example lower turbo availability in the 911 range, or higher proportion of V-6 versus turbo Cayennes -- could have accounted for the weaker revenue per unit," Morgan Stanley wrote in a research note. It estimated revenue per unit fell 16 percent year-on-year in the four months to May.
The Porsche spokesman said higher sales of its base 911 Carrera version contributed to the lag in revenue growth as well as more deliveries of its lowest-priced model, the Boxster.
Moreover, roughly a third of all Cayennes sold were equipped with the entry-level V-6 engine instead of the more powerful V-8 version, an increase compared with a year ago.
"While revenue growth may not have been as strong as car sales growth, this isn't anything new due to exchange rate effects and the dollar hedge cushions their impact on the bottom line," CSFB's Hendrikse said.
Porsche shares have risen nearly 34 percent this year, outperforming the DJ Stoxx European autos index by over 20 percent and beating every other major carmaker in the world.
"Overall, the momentum will ease up distinctly for Porsche," said Stephan Droxner, analyst at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg.
"Sales of the Cayenne will become more difficult as new rivals enter the segment and a possible fourth model line is already priced into Porsche's stock. We recommend taking profits at the current level."