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Aston Martin swings to a first-quarter loss as margins squeezed

The £17mln pre-tax loss wasn’t enough to scare the market though, with investors taking some heart from a rise in sales and unchanged full-year guidance
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Aston Martin shares have struggled since October’s IPO

The market couldn’t make its mind up about Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC’s (LON:AML) first-quarter results on Wednesday.

Shares in the luxury carmaker opened the day broadly unchanged at 819p, athough that was less than half of what they were sold for in last autumn’s initial public offering.

READ: JP Morgan predicts pricing pressure for Aston Martin

The FTSE 250 listed company swung to a pre-tax loss of £17.3mln in the three months to the end of March. That compared with a small £2.8mln profit in the same period of 2018.

Bosses put the fall down to financing costs associated with the conversion of preference shares to ordinary shares in the recent IPO.

Margin squeeze

Softer margins also played a part, with Aston Martin selling fewer “special” cars on which it makes more money. It sold 32 specials in the first quarter of this year, versus 48 in 2018.

Adjusted operating margins fell to -1.1% (Q1 18: 11.9%), meaning, on average, it made a loss on every car that rolled off its production line.

Even gross profit margins slipped by 2 percentage points to 42%, largely driven by a drop in prices and lower demand for its more expensive cars.

Revenue and guidance provides some reassurance

But revenue rose 6% to £196.0mln (Q1 18: £185.4mln) as it shipped more cars: 1,057 to be precise, 10% more than last year (Q1 18: 963 cars sold).

That was despite a contraction in the industry, with supercar sales around the world falling in the opening three months of 2019.

Aston Martin also reassured about its full-year performance, keeping its guidance in place.

'Challenging' environment

“Despite declining total industry volumes, Aston Martin Lagonda has delivered a sales increase that reaffirms its position as a luxury marque that offers some resilience to these wider automotive trends,” said chief executive Andy Palmer.

“We remain conscious of the challenging external environment in certain of our markets and we have taken this into account in our planning whilst ensuring we do not compromise on delivery.”

He added: “Our guidance is unchanged. We expect our normal H2 seasonality to be amplified by Specials which are heavily weighted to Q4 this year.”

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