Renault (RNLSY) shares traded higher Friday after the French carmaker posted better-than-expected full-year earnings and boosted its dividend by nearly a third.
Renault said operating profit for 2016 came in at a record €3.28 billion, up 38% from the previous year and modestly ahead of analysts' forecasts of €3 billion. Revenue for the year rose 13.1%, the company said, to €51.2 billion, which was also ahead of the Street consensus. The €3.15 per share dividend was up from €2.40 in 2015.
Renault shares rose 1.84% in Paris to change hands at €84.33 each by 11:00 GMT, extending their three month gain past 17% compared to a 13.6% gain for the Stoxx Europe 600 Automobiles & Parts Index.
Gains were limited, however, after CEO Carlos Ghosn, who also heads Japan's Nissan Motor (NSANY) , said further financial ties between the two groups would only occur if the French government dumps its near 20% stake in Renault.
"Following the soap opera of double voting rights and the discussion with the French state, Nissan has said very clearly that it will not accept any move on capital structure as long as the French state remains a shareholder," Ghosn told reporters on a conference call. "The day the French state decides to get out, everything is open. But as long as they are in, the alliance will continue to move as it is."
France's government holds a 19.74% stake in Renault, which it increased in April 2015, and has two seats on the company's board.
Renault also revealed a new series of five-year financial targets, including a 160 basis point improvement in operating margins and sales of €70 billion by 2022. Renault's 2016 operating margin improved 120 basis points to 6.4%. The group also sees global car market growth of 1.5% to 2% in 2017, with a 2% advance for Europe.