UPDATE 2-Volvo Cars H2 profits rise, sees risk of semiconductor shortage ahead

(Adds CEO comment, detail)

STOCKHOLM, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Volvo Cars has not suffered from the global semiconductor shortage, but risks linger, its chief executive said on Thursday as the Sweden-based company reported an 8.2% rise in second-half operating earnings.

Volvo, has seen a sharp rebound boosted by growing demand for electric cars, but several automakers have been forced to cut production lately, due to semiconductor shortages.

CEO Hakan Samuelsson said the company, which is owned by China’s Geely Holding, had not seen any lost volume due to the shortage, adding the next four weeks had been secured.

“So short-term no disturbance... But there is of course a big risk that it could come here during the first quarter. But it is very hard to forecast,” Samuelsson told Reuters.

Gothenburg-based Volvo said on Thursday it expected increased sales this year and a return to pre-pandemic levels of profitability, assuming market conditions continue to normalise.

The auto industry was hit hard last spring due to widespread lockdowns in many markets.

One bright spot in the second half of the year for Volvo was electric vehicles, with their share of Volvo’s sales more than doubling and reaching over 30% of total sales in Europe.

Volvo aims to have fully electric cars account for 50% of its global sales by 2025, with the rest to be hybrids.

Talks on a potential merger with sister company Geely Automobile are still on hold as Geely works to list its shares on Shanghai’s New Star Market, Samuelsson said, adding he expected to come back with further details in the first quarter.

Volvo Cars reported second-half (July-December) operating earnings of 9.50 billion Swedish crowns ($1.1 billion) versus 8.78 billion a year earlier.

It said last month that full-year sales dropped 6% to 661,713 cars while sales in the second half were the strongest in the firm’s history.

In January, its global sales rose by 30.2% to 59,588 cars, the firm said on Wednesday.

$1 = 8.4175 Swedish crowns Reporting by Helena Soderpalm; editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Jason Neely