BMW profit rise beats forecasts


BMW, the world's biggest premium carmaker, reported a 57.7 per cent gain in first-quarter pretax profit today, helped by a one-off gain but still beating analysts' expectations.

It also tweaked its 2006 earnings guidance higher by forecasting not only that pretax profit would rise to a record €4 billion as deliveries to customers reach an all-time high, but also that earnings excluding one-off gains would advance.

"In terms of their full-year forecast they are marginally more bullish," said Banca IMI analyst Sabine Bluemel, adding quarterly results were better than expected but held no huge surprises.

BMW's shares rose 0.9 per cent to €43.80 by 7:22am , bettering a 0.3 per cent rise in the DJ Stoxx European car sector index.

Earnings before tax advanced to €1.296 billion from €822 million a year earlier and compared with an average estimate of €1.22 billion in a poll of 20 analysts.

Even excluding a €375-million-euro gain from selling shares in UK aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, operating profit rose 12 per cent to €921 million as deliveries of the company's sleek sedans and sport utility vehicles climbed nearly 14 per cent.

First-quarter net profit jumped nearly 81 per cent to €948 million on revenue up 12.2 per cent to €11.62 billion.

Increased sales volume and efficiency gains largely offset unfavourable exchange rates, high raw material prices and intense competition last year and again in the first quarter.

BMW said the negative impact of the strong euro and raw material costs would continue to weigh on earnings this year, but to a lesser degree than in 2005. It did not elaborate.

Pretax profit at BMW's core automobile division rose 7.2 per cent to €761 million. Analysts had seen pretax profit at the division rising 6 per cent on average to €743 million.

BMW stock trades at just over 11 times estimated 2007 earnings, a premium to arch-rival DaimlerChrysler's multiple of around 8.8 times next year's earnings, according to Reuters Estimates.