Renault posts £2.67bn loss and foresees market falls

FRENCH car-maker Renault posted a wider-than-expected full-year net loss yesterday and shied away from predicting a profit in 2010.

Renault – maker of the Twingo, Clio and Megane models – expects economic conditions to remain tough in 2010 and foresees a 10 per cent drop in the European market as a whole. Chief executive Carlos Ghosn gave no earnings forecast for the year ahead.

"Frankly we think that in 2010 there is still a lot of uncertainty and volatility and we don't want to spend our time every month correcting the earnings guidance," said Ghosn. "We think that 2010 is particularly obscure," he said, adding however the year had got off to a good start in orders.

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For the past year, Renault posted a net loss of 3.07 billion (2.67bn), wider than the consensus analysts' estimate of a 2.59bn net loss. In 2008, Renault made a profit of 599 million.

Ghosn is also head of Renault's Japanese ally Nissan, which this week returned to a third-quarter profit and raised full-year targets.

Analyst Michael Tyndall, at investment bank Nomura, said some market disappointment may have come from the fact that "compared with Peugeot, Renault was not confident enough to say they would make a profit in H1".

Rival Peugeot-Citron said it expected to achieve a positive recurring operating income in the first half, though it refused to give an outlook beyond mid-year.

Renault posted improving results towards the end of 2009 after the introduction of government scrappage incentives, but such schemes are now expiring.

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