Piaggio 2008 net down, div unchanged

MILAN Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:36pm GMT

MILAN Feb 26 (Reuters) - Italy's Piaggio posted a 28 percent drop in net profit for 2008 following a drop in sales for its two-wheeled scooters in its main European markets.

Its board nevertheless proposed a 0.06 euros-per-share dividend, unchanged from the previous year, the maker of the Vespa brand said in a statement on Thursday.

Shares in Piaggio, controlled by holding company IMMSI, ended 1.3 percent lower at 1.05 euros before the statement was issued.

Net profit totalled 43.3 million euros against 60 million in 2007. Net consolidated revenue went down 7.2 percent to 1.57 billion.

Sales of its two-wheelers were down 10 percent to 1.18 billion euros. The weaker markets in Italy and elsewhere in Europe outweighed a rise in sales it enjoyed in the United States, especially for its Vespa model.

Currency effects also hurt, given the euro's strength against the dollar, the pound and the Indian rupee.

Piaggio's net debt rose to 359.7 million euros at the end of 2008 from 269.8 million a year earlier due to the dividend pay-out on 2007 results, the purchase of its own shares and other costs. (Reporting by Gilles Castonguay;Editing by David Holmes)