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Aston Martin lifts outlook on sports car demand, selling prices

Aston Martin has raised its annual forecasts for the second time this year after posting six months of record profits, as the luxury carmaker races towards a potential stock market listing.

The British carmaker, famed for supplying James Bond, reported a pre-tax profit of £21.1m for the first half compared to a loss of £82.3m in the same period last year.
This was due partly to rising demand for its latest sports cars, and also to higher relative selling prices caused by the fall in the pound following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

Aston exports 80 per cent of its vehicles, and the company’s largest market is the US.
Demand for its cars rose 67 per cent to 2,439 vehicles, while the average selling price for its core range climbed by 25 per cent to £149,000.

Rising demand for its flagship DB11 sports car led to a near-doubling of revenues to £410.4m in the six months.

“Our profit is partly up as a result of the weakness of the pound,” said chief executive Andy Palmer, the former Nissan executive who joined the business in 2014 to turn the business around.

Aston, which has struggled for years with losses, has embarked on a plan to revamp its fleet and restore it to a secure financial footing.

The company has begun renewing its line up of sports cars, beginning with the DB11 last year, and will move on to make a sports utility vehicle, two saloons under the Lagonda sub-brand, a mid-engined sports car to rival Ferrari, and a fully electric saloon car before 2023.

In the second quarter of this year, the company posted a pre-tax profit of £15.2m, its third successive quarter of profitability.

It upgraded its outlook for the year, raising expected underlying earnings to £175m and revenues to £830m.

In May it raised guidance on full-year adjusted earnings to £170m or higher, up from previous expectations of £160-165m, while it raised revenue forecast to above £800m, at the upper end of previous guidance of £785-£815m.

Mark Wilson, chief financial officer, said: “The strength of our first half results prove that our strategy is on track. We exceeded our budget for the tenth consecutive quarter, giving us confidence that we will deliver a step-change in full-year performance.”

During the first half the company refinanced £550m of debt, significantly reducing its interest payments.

The company is co-owned by Italian investment group Investindustrial and a Kuwaiti investment fund, while Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler has a 5 per cent stake that allows it to sell some engine technology to Aston Martin.

The company is expected to pursue a stock market listing within the next two years, to crystalise a return for the current owners, though all of its current expansion plans to move into SUVs and electric cars are financed by its own cash generation.

The company is seeking to position itself alongside Ferrari as a “luxury” company, something that it has cultivated by diversifying into branding and design partnership in other luxury segments, such as speedboats, luxury apartments and high end clothing lines.