By on January 7, 2020

Aston Martin was not under the illusion that 2019 would be a stellar year. After issuing a recent profit warning, the British automaker fired off another this week after realizing it ended up being a worse year than initially feared. Aston’s stock has lost 3 billion pounds in market value since the company’s initial public offering in 2018.

While retail sales were technically up last year, climbing 12 percent, total wholesales fell by 7 percent. According to the manufacturer, gains were made thanks to the redesigned Vantage (introduced in 2018). Unfortunately, that also caused some headaches. Despite being a six-figure car, at Aston Martin the model is technically an entry level, and its high take rate actually resulted in a lower average selling price across Aston’s business for Q4. Combine that with an overall increase in leased vehicles upping financing costs and you’re beginning to see part of the problem. 

“From a trading perspective, 2019 has been a very disappointing year,” Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer told Reuters in an interview.

Another issue, according to Aston, is weak demand in European markets — specifically the United Kingdom. While the Vantage could have performed better by selling in larger numbers with higher price tags, that would have required more cooperation from those markets. The carmaker was hit by a rising pound following the UK’s general election, which it said further impacted profitability.

From Reuters:

For 2019, Aston expects adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 130-140 million pounds ($171-$184 million).

The company reported 247.3 million pounds in core profit a year earlier, while analysts’ average forecast was 196 million pounds for 2019, according to a company-compiled consensus.

Aston said it was also in talks with investors for a potential equity investment and would draw down $100 million in bond notes.

The debt, which holds a 15-percent interest, was attached to the first bond raise ($150 million in September ) and was conditional on the firm booking 1,400 orders for its DBX sport utility vehicle. Fortunately, the SUV has already surpassed that number and is being viewed as the brand’s prospective savior. But developing the model and prepping it for production has also cost Aston Martin a small fortune.

The model uses a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 (retuned for the DBX) producing 542 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That get up and go is channeled through a nine-speed automatic to the SUV’s all-wheel-drive system — which includes an active central differential and an electric limited-slip diff at the rear. Considering how well luxury performance SUVs have performed with other super-premium manufacturers, its $193,000 starting price could be a big help for the brand.

Bentley praised the Bentayga SUV for returning it to profitability last year and Rolls-Royce said the Cullinan SUV drove its global sales to an all-time high of 5,152 vehicles. Considering there are nearly 2,000 pre-orders already on the DBX, Aston Martin may have something to celebrate when it launches in 2021. It just has to get through 2020 first.

aston martin

[Images: Sibuet Benjamin/Shutterstock; Aston Martin]

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