How SUVs Are Powering Massive Profits for Porsche

The Cayenne is once again Porsche's best-seller -- and the new Macan SUV is sold out.

Jul 13, 2014 at 1:03PM


Want a new Porsche Macan? You'll be waiting a while: Porsche says that Macans ordered now won't be delivered until 2015, as the sports car brand continues to make a big impact with its SUVs. Source: Porsche

Investors in Volkswagen Group (NASDAQOTH:VLKAY) might be concerned about the thin profit margins on VW-brand vehicles. And they might be concerned about the VW brand's struggles in the U.S. market, where sales are down over 13% this year.

But they have to like the performance of the Group's luxury brands, Audi and Porsche. Porsche in particular has been a profit powerhouse for VW Group, generating nearly a quarter of its pre-tax profits in 2013 -- on sales that were less than 2% of the Group's total.

This past week, Porsche reported that its global sales were up another 8% in the first half of 2014. In this short video, Motley Fool senior auto specialist John Rosevear digs into Porsche's numbers to find what's really driving its profitable run -- and finds reasons to think that Porsche's sales (and profits) could jump even higher soon.

A transcript of the video is below.

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John Rosevear: Hey Fools, it's John Rosevear, senior auto specialist for The Volkswagen Group's Porsche brand is seeing good gains so far this year. Porsche said this week that its worldwide deliveries in the first half of 2014 were up almost 8%, with growth being especially strong in Europe as luxury-car sales continue to outpace the overall market there.

Porsche's total sales numbers are relatively tiny compared to most of the auto brands we talk about, but Porsche is significant because it makes an outsized contribution to VW's global profits. It's a great example of how a well-run luxury brand can generate huge profits.

In 2013 Porsche accounted for just 1.7% of VW Group's total sales, but it generated 22% of the company's pre-tax profits. And again, they're doing it with tiny sales numbers. In the first half of 2014 Porsche sold 87,800 vehicles worldwide. Consider that Ford sold over 60,000 pickups last month just in the U.S., these are minuscule sales by global standards.

Clearly there are tons of profits in those sales, Porsche's operating profit margin in the first quarter was 18%, just spectacular by auto-industry standards, usually we cheer if an automaker hits 10%. And the biggest single driver of Porsche profits looks to be the Cayenne SUV.

Porsche sold 37,200 Cayennes in the first half of the year, or 42% of its total. The Cayenne shares its architecture with the Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7, they're all built in the same factory although Porsche says the Cayennes are finished at Porsche's facility. But the price is a lot different, where the Audi Q7s tend to be priced in the low-mid $60,000 dollar range, Cayennes can easily be optioned up well over $100,000 dollars and often are.

The idea of a Porsche SUV still rubs sports-car purists the wrong way, but it has been a spectacularly profitable product for the brand. And they've recently started building on that success with the Porsche Macan, a smaller SUV that shares a lot of parts with the Audi Q5 SUV.

And the Macan has already been a wild success. It went on sale in May and it's already sold out for the year. Porsche Cars North America said recently that U.S. customers looking to buy a new Macan will be waiting more than six months for delivery, it won't arrive until 2015.

In fact, U.S. Porsche dealers have had to come up with a special program for people who want to buy a Macan, you can have a very short-term lease on a Boxster or Cayman sports car so that you have a Porsche to drive until your Macan is delivered. Porsche Cars North America CEO Detlev von Platen told trade publication Automotive News that he expects about 80 percent of Macan buyers to be first-time Porsche buyers, so they're looking at it as an important gateway product.

So Porsche growth continues to look pretty good, that bodes well for VW Group's profits, and Porsche is in that proverbial nice problem to have with demand for its latest new product exceeding supply. Thanks for watching.

John Rosevear has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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