Ceska Informacni Agentura (CIA) reports that Skoda Auto recorded last year the after-tax profit of CZK 1.825bn (57.8 million euros), 14.3% down on 2001 (CZK 2.13bn). Last year, the company said it sold 445,525 cars, 17,000 cars less than in the year 2001.

Commenting on the annual report, Winfried Vahland, Skoda Auto vice chairman of the board of directors responsible for economy, said: “The company’s economic result for 2002 has been affected by a universal drop in car sales in the world auto markets and by a related decrease in merchandise revenue. The exchange rate of the Czech crown has recorded further consolidation, which has negatively influenced the revenues. The impacts of the strong exchange rate of the crown have burdened the 2002 economic result with the amount of about CZK 4.4bn. The company managed to make up for the loss by means of optimising expenses and processes.”

Skoda Auto exported automobiles and parts valued at CZK 120bn in 2002, which represents a 9.6% share of the Czech Republic’s total exports.

Looking ahead, Vratislav Kulhanek, Chairman of Skoda Auto, said: “In the short run, we cannot expect speedy sales market revitalisation. Our goal for 2003 is to achieve an economic result at the previous year’s level. A precondition is that the global economic situation may not deteriorate comparing to 2002. In the medium run, we expect positive incentives relating to expansion of the European Union eastwards and finishing the consolidation stage.”