Bond helps to push carmaker Aston Martin to a pre-tax loss

Marion Dakers
ICONIC carmaker Aston Martin swung to a loss in 2011 as financing costs overshadowed rising sales, according to the luxury carmaker’s annual accounts.

The British firm, taken over by Kuwaiti investors in 2007, posted a pre-tax loss of £33.1m for last year, from a pre-tax profit of £6.9m in 2010. Operating profits fell by three quarters to £8.4m.

Aston Martin Holdings (UK) incurred one-off costs by repaying a £200m bank loan and buying previous owner Ford’s shares.

The company also spent £2.75m to bring production of the Rapide model from Austria back to its Gaydon plant in the UK.

Aston Martin entered the bond market in June 2011, raising £300m in high-yield seven-year notes to replace its bank loan. Moody’s currently rates the bonds B3 – the same as Argentina. The firm also paid a £30m dividend.

Revenues rose 6.9 per cent to £506.8m, as previously announced in April, in spite of the ongoing economic conditions affecting car sales “severely”, the firm said.

Gross margins fell from 17.9 per cent to 13.4 per cent, which the firm said was in line with directors’ expectations.

Aston Martin opened four dealerships in the year to take its total to 137.

The group had cash and cash equivalents of £46.6m at the end of the year, up from £43.3m at the end of 2010. Aston Martin declined to comment.