PARIS Feb 23 PSA Group, the French
carmaker in talks to buy Opel from General Motors,
announced its first dividend in six years and raised its
medium-term profitability goal on Thursday after full-year
profit almost doubled.
The Paris-based maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars said
stronger pricing, sales of higher-specification models and cost
cuts lifted the automotive operating margin to a record 6
percent last year from 5 percent in 2015.
The carmaker raised its automotive margin goal to an average
4.5 percent for the 2016-18 period while declining to comment on
the ongoing Opel takeover talks with GM.
"At this stage there can be no certainty as to the outcome
of these talks," Chief Financial Officer Jean-Baptiste de
Chatillon told reporters on a call.
PSA's 6.8 billion euros ($7.2 billion) net cash position
allows the group to "deploy this cash to make profitable
investments ... in the interest of our shareholders", Chatillon
Net income rose 92 percent to 1.73 billion euros, with
recurring operating income up 18 percent at 3.235 billion euros.
Revenue fell 1.1 percent to 54 billion euros.
PSA proposed a dividend of 0.48 euros per share on the 2016
earnings, its first such payout since 2011.
The company said it expected "stable" demand in the
European, Latin American and Russian markets this year, with
China growing another 5 percent.
($1 = 0.9463 euros)
(Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)