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Aston Martin sees small recovery as 2013 loss shrinks by a third

Aston Martin’s pretax loss fell by a third in 2013 on the back of rising sales as the sports car maker said it had seen a small rebound in demand for high-end autos.

The company posted a pretax loss of £25.4 million (32.3 million euros) for 2013, down a third from the year earlier, on revenue up 13 percent to £519 million.

Aston Martin said last year’s economic uncertainty had impacted its results and it was unclear when the full effects of a more recent revival would be felt, though there had already been some tentative positive signs in its own market.

“Global economies have continued to show uncertainty during 2013, however the high-luxury sports segment has experienced a small recovery,” the report filed on the website of British commercial register Companies House read. “As with all economic recoveries the precise timing and nature of the recovery is uncertain.”

Aston Martin, whose current range includes the Vantage and the DB9, sold 4,200 cars last year, up from 3,800 in 2012.

The automaker is owned by Kuwaiti and Italian private equity groups, and has struggled in recent years, partly because unlike other high-end UK brands such as Volkswagen-owned Bentley, it is not owned by a wider automaking group capable of supplying investment.

Attempts to move back into the black are being led by former Nissan executive Andy Palmer, who became CEO in September after nine leaderless months. However Palmer has plenty of challenges ahead.

In February, Aston Martin was forced to recall 17,590 cars after discovering a Chinese supplier was using counterfeit plastic material in its production of pedals, costing it £1.5 million. And a year ago, its attempt to tap into the popularity of city cars with the Cygnet model, based on the Toyota iQ, was scrapped after poor sales.

In the United States, Aston is also battling to have the coupe and convertible models of two of its vehicles be exempted for several years from new side-impact safety rules which it said would cause it “substantial economic hardship.”

Chief Financial Officer Hanno Kirner told Reuters in May he expected the marque to make a significant return to profitability after 2016 thanks to a £500 million investment program.