FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Volkswagen (NASDAQOTH:VLKAY) chief executive Martin Winterkorn said Thursday the company faces a challenging year particularly in Europe, where many countries are in recession.
Winterkorn told the company's annual news and analyst conference that "Volkswagen is feeling the headwinds -- especially in Europe."
However, he said he was "guardedly confident" and that this year's operating earnings should match last year's. In 2012, VW recorded record sales and earnings.
Winterkorn said prospects were better in the United States, "where the upward trend is continuing," and in China. He said that of 10 planned new plants, seven were in China, strengthening future earnings there.
Volkswagen is doing better than Europe's other mass-market carmakers, who are struggling with fierce competition and slumping demand in southern Europe due to the debt crisis that has seen unemployment rise, especially among the young people who are a key market for smaller, cheaper cars.
Volkswagen's flagship brand has done well while its luxury brands, such as Audi and Porsche, are enjoying higher profits per vehicle.
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.
More from The Motley Fool
Here's Where Things Went Wrong for Nike, Inc. in 2017
Nike's stock didn't have a bad year, but there are some operational challenges starting to show up for the company.
Better Stock: Visa Inc. (V) vs. Mastercard (MA)
Which of the two biggest card-network giants has the better prospects?
Is Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD) a Buy?
This giant, high-yield midstream oil and natural gas partnership is changing things, which is good for conservative income investors