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Aston Martin slumps to half-year loss as European demand drops

2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Aston Martin

Luxury British carmaker Aston Martin slumped to a half-year loss as profits were hit by a nearly 20 percent drop in European demand, the latest blow to the automotive sector.

Aston Martin, best known as James Bond's favourite marque, has been undergoing a turnaround plan since Chief Executive Andy Palmer took over in 2014, designed to renew and boost its model line-up and move into new segments.

The plan culminated in an autumn 2018 stock market flotation.

But its share price has since fallen by more than two-thirds from 19 pounds ($23.00) in October to below 6 pounds, hit by a weakening performance in Europe, Middle East and Africa, where demand fell by nearly a fifth in the first six months of the year.

On Wednesday, it posted a pretax loss of 78.8 million pounds ($96 million) compared with a 20.8 million pound profit in the first half of 2018.

"We are disappointed that our projections for wholesales have fallen short or our original targets, impacted by weakness in two of our key markets as well as continued macro-economic uncertainty," Palmer said.

Overall wholesale demand grew by 6 percent in the first six months as the group posted strong increases in the Americas and Asia, but the slump in Britain and the rest of the region prompted the carmaker to cut its full-year forecast.

Aston has also been hit by expansion costs as it builds a new factory to make its first sport utility vehicle, and a lower average selling price.

The global car sector has been hit by weakening demand in China and a slump in demand for diesel vehicles in Europe, as well as the cost of electrification.