BMW posts second quarterly loss


Luxury car maker BMW posted its second consecutive quarterly loss as the global recession trampled demand for upscale saloons and sport-utility vehicles.

The first-quarter net loss was €152 million ($202 million), or 23 cents a share, compared with profit of €487 million, or 74 cents, a year earlier, BMW said today in a statement.

The deficit was narrower than the median €268 million-euro estimate of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

BMW lost €963 million in the last three months of 2008, its first deficit since at least 2001.

The company is trimming spending and eliminating jobs as the global recession plunges the auto industry into its worst crisis in decades.

Industry wide car sales in the US, BMW’s largest market, fell 34 per cent in April, the 18th monthly decline in a row.

The manufacturer, which also makes Mini and Rolls-Royce models, curtailed production by 78,000 vehicles this year after reducing hours for 26,000 workers at plants in the German towns of Regensburg and Dingolfing.

About 8,000 employees returned to normal hours at Regensburg this month, where BMW assembles the 3-Series sedan and Z4 roadster.

The company began cooperating on parts purchases in March with Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz division, which ranks second to BMW in making luxury cars, and said at the time more “major” joint projects are possible as a way of cutting costs. BMW reiterated its forecasts that sales will drop in 2009.

The company, which also makes motorcycles, said it can’t make a reliable earnings prediction because of questions about the depth of the recession.

BMW said on April 7th that its first- quarter deliveries declined 21 per cent. Moody’s Investors Service cut BMW’s long-term debt rating on April 3rd by one level to A3, the fourth-lowest investment grade.

The credit-reporting company kept the carmaker on watch for another potential downgrade, citing a “severe and rapid downturn in demand for BMW’s vehicles”.