Volkswagen’s new CEO will take the company to ‘the next level,’ analysts say

  • VW announced several changes Thursday, including that the group will be organized into six businesses and have a portfolio for China.
  • It also announced a new CEO with Herbet Diess starting in August.
  • UBS analysts said it expects VW to beat consensus expectations and raise guidance later this year.

New plans by German carmaker Volkswagen could finally set it free from the troubled years of the "dieselgate" scandal, analysts told CNBC Friday.

VW announced several changes Thursday, including that the group will be organized into six businesses and have a portfolio for China. It also announced a new CEO with Herbet Diess starting in August, replacing Matthias Muller, who led the company in the wake of the emissions scandal. Volkswagen has struggled since 2015 when news broke that the company had deliberately cheated emission tests with U.S. authorities hitting the firm with a $2.8 billion penalty. Diess has been the head of the Volkswagen cars division.

"Volkswagen used to trade at a big, big discount, and I think Herbert Diess is really the CEO who will drive efficiency at Volkswagen, he will take the company to the next level," Arndt Ellinghorst, senior managing director at Evercore ISI, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" Friday.

"Investors will really enjoy meeting him and will put a lot of trust into his ambitions into Volkswagen," he added.

Herbert Deiss, upcoming VW CEO.
David McNew | AFP | Getty Images
Herbert Deiss, upcoming VW CEO.

VW's share price plunged by around 40 percent in September 2015 when the news broke. However, shares have rebounded 92 percent from that trough, and are now even 8 percent higher than the time immediately before the crisis.

The Volkswagen Group, which also includes brands such as Audi and Porsche, reported a 4.3 percent increase in sales for 2017, compared to the previous year.

According to Anna-Marie Baisden, head of autos research at BMI Research, the firm has been criticized for not changing fast enough. There are "too many layers of control to make any decisions because of the big family shareholdings," she said.

However, the appointment of Diess was a good strategy, she added. "While not a total outsider he is relatively new to the company and so brings a new outlook," Baisden said.

She said that he has a track record of cost cutting with the VW brand, while stopping short of mass job cuts. He is also "very forward looking" focussing on new competition such as Tesla, rather than traditional rivals, according to Baisden.

VW's share price was slightly higher Friday morning.

Meanwhile, UBS analysts said it expects VW to beat consensus expectations and raise guidance later this year. "Diess might revisit the 2020 business plan later this year ... We think his strong track record at the VW brand so far and previously at BMW could well result in more ambitious targets, and several brands are still well below potential in terms of profitability," the analysts said in a research note Friday.