Piaggio Group Profit Sinks 45.6% in First Half of '09

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As is happening with many companies struggling with this still troubled global economy, the Piaggio Group says it plans to spend the coming months seeking ways to boost worker productivity while minimizing costs.

Piaggio Group net profit for the first six months of the year to June 30 was €25.7 million ($36.5 million), down 45.6 percent compared to €47.3 million in the first half of 2008. Net sales for the recently ended half-year amounted to €795.6 million ($1.3 billion), down 11.6 percent compared to €900.3 million during the same six months last year.

First-half consolidated vehicle sales totaled 314,200 units, down 15.6 percent compared to 372,700 units sold during the first half of 2008. Compared with the first half of 2008, demand fell 44 percent in the United States, 17 percent in Europe and 6.9 percent in Italy.

Despite reduced sales, Piaggio Group Chairman Roberto Colaninno says particular attention will be given to the consolidation of the scooter business in North America and Europe; the re-launch of the Moto Guzzi brand; expansion of the Aprilia motorcycle range; and a concentration on new investments such as hybrid engines, Vespa scooter production in Vietnam and a new engine plant in India.

The Piaggio Group in North America includes Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio and Vespa. In other parts of the world the company also markets product under the Ape, Derbi, Gilera and Piaggio Commercial Vehicles brand names.

The Piaggio Group had net sales of €1.570 billion ($2.006 billion) in its year ended Dec. 31, 2008, down 7.2 percent from net sales of €1.692 billion in 2007. The company sold 648,600 vehicles in 2008, down 8.5 percent compared to 708,500 vehicles sold in 2007. Vehicle sales in North America last year grew 28.7 percent to 31,600 units.

—Submitted by Guido Ebert