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Why Worst-Case Scenario For Volkswagen Might Be A $7.4 Billion Fine, Not $18 Billion

Why Worst-Case Scenario For Volkswagen Might Be A $7.4 Billion Fine, Not $18 Billion

  • In the past week, shares of Volkswagen AG (ADR) (OTC: VLKAY) have plunged 37 percent.
  • With the overhang of an emissions scandal plaguing shares, Bernstein's Max Warburton estimated that the financial impact of the "absolute worst case" was $7.4 billion – not $18 billion.
  • Warburton dug into the "complex EPA methodology" to make this estimate, while issuing a caveat that that the penalty will be "decided via a judicial action," which complicates things.
  • Bernstein's Max Warburton dispelled the myth Monday that Volkswagen's fine could reach $18 billion – a cost that corresponds with the $37,500 maximum per car fine multiplied by 482,000 cars.

    After digging into the EPA's methodology, Warburton said that that fine only applies to the first 10 cars. "Subsequent vehicles would be fined much, much smaller amounts," Warburton suggested.

    Fine Estimate Doesn't Include Other Financial Risks

    Despite the $7.4 billion estimate, Warburton cautioned that Volkswagen has "all sorts of other financial risks." Those include risks of state-level fines, fines in other regions and a loss of sales, margins and profitability in the United States and, potentially, Europe. Therefore, Bernstein suggested that investors should "brace for significant financial damage."

    Related Link: It's Not Over For Volkswagen; Deutsche Bank Downgrades "Polluted" Stock

    Warburton also asked whether Volkswagen would be forced to raise capital given the size of a fine, which would likely be more than 10 percent of its current $53 billion market cap. Bernstein said that if the fines exceed 10 billion euros – or $12 billion – a capital raise is "highly likely." Otherwise, the company is likely to maintain its "very conservative approach to financing."

    Last week, Warburton tackled eight other questions that investors should know about Volkswagen. At the moment, the analyst has reiterated the firm's Overweight stance on the stock.

    Image Credit: Public Domain

    Latest Ratings for VLKAY

    Apr 2018JefferiesUpgradesHoldBuy
    Nov 2016Goldman SachsUpgradesSellBuy
    Nov 2016HSBCUpgradesHoldBuy

    View More Analyst Ratings for VLKAY
    View the Latest Analyst Ratings


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