BERLIN (Reuters) -- Volkswagen Group said it still aimed for flat operating profits this year even as first-half earnings fell 11.6 percent amid weakening auto markets.
Underlying profit at VW fell to 5.78 billion euros ($7.66 billion) from 6.54 billion a year ago, VW said in a statement today as it unexpectedly published key earnings figures a day ahead of schedule.
VW reaffirmed goals to match last year's record operating profit of 11.5 billion euros and to push sales and deliveries to new record levels as it counts on business to improve over the course of the year.
Costs from an engineering overhaul, facilitating production of small and medium front-wheel-drive family models including the Golf hatchback, "will have an increasingly positive effect" on future earnings, VW said.
After withstanding most of last year's slump in core European markets, VW is now feeling the pinch from weakening auto markets. Group deliveries, though at a first-half record of 4.7 million cars, rose at the third-slowest pace in 17 months in June.
"We are not completely immune to the intense competition and the impact this has on business," VW said. "There will be increasingly stiff competition in a challenging market environment."