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Business

BMW Breaks Records in 2001

The luxury-car maker reported record sales for 2001 that were mostly in line with analysts' expectations, but some of the figures beat even the most upbeat forecasts.

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Golden machine

Luxury-car maker BMW AG has reached its expected record result for 2001. After switching to International Accounting Standards (IAS), the group saw earnings from ordinary business activity rise 59.5 percent to 3.242 billion euro. Under Germany's HGB accounting standards, earnings came in at 2.748 euro.

That result almost exactly matched analysts' forecasts. BMW chief financial officer Helmut Panke previously held out the prospect of a return on sales of "clearly more than six percent". The 7.3 percent the group reported on Monday similarly met analysts' forecasts more or less exactly.

Under IAS, the return came in at 8.4 percent. Analysts said they had expected the return on sales figure to come in 11 percent higher under IAS than under HGB calculations. In fact, it came in 15 percent higher.

So two years after BMW's costly withdrawal from British subsidiary Rover, analysts see the car maker better positioned than ever before.

Group sales rose 3.3 percent to 38.46 billion under IAS. Net earnings soared 54.3 percent to 1.866 billion euro. Shares in BMW last week rose to a new record high of 45.12 euro, having put on around 13 percent since the start of the year.

On Monday, they closed up 0.81 percent at 44.80 euro. BMW’s supervisory board recommended a rise in dividend to 0.54 euro from 0.46 euro. Some analysts had expected the dividend to be raised to just 0.50 euro because of expected development costs.

For the current year, the car maker has already delivered – by its standards – an unusually confident forecast. Unit sales were forecast to rise by more than one million BMW and Mini cars, while sales and earnings are also seen to continue rising.

In Germany, unit sales were down slightly in February from the previous month. Meanwhile, it was announced in Brussels that BMW will likely have to wait longer than expected to receive EU approval for state subsidies for its new plant in Leipzig, east Germany.

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