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MENAFN - AFP - 06/11/2012

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(MENAFN - AFP) German top-of-the-range carmaker BMW said on Tuesday it was sticking to its forecast for record sales and earnings this year after a strong third quarter.

"We are on course to achieve new record figures for sales volume and pre-tax earnings in 2012," said chief executive Norbert Reithofer.

"Conditions on international car markets do, however, pose a whole range of challenges to the BMW Group. Like the rest of the sector, we are now beginning to feel some headwind," Reithofer said.

In the three months from July to September, net profit grew by 16 percent to 1.289 billion euros (1.6 billion).

Underlying profit, as measured by earnings before interest and tax, climbed 13.8 percent to 2.004 billion euros.

Revenues jumped by by 13.7 percent to 18.817 billion euros and unit sales were up 9.0 percent at 434,963 vehicles.

"We have had a good third quarter, setting new sales volume, revenues and earnings records in the face of a challenging market environment. We expect further sales volume growth for the fourth quarter, even though it is clear that we -- and indeed the sector as a whole -- are likely to be confronted with adverse business conditions," Reithofer said.

Taking the nine months to September, net profit slipped by 2.8 percent to 3.915 billion euros while underlying profit edged up 0.8 percent to 6.406 billion euros.

Deliveries to customers were up 8.3 percent at 1.336 million vehicles which drove nine-month revenues up by 9.3 percent to 50.7 billion euros.

By region, sales were higher across the board, "despite highly unfavourable business conditions in some parts of Europe, in particular the region's southern countries," BMW said.

European sales edged up by 0.8 percent. In North America, the number of cars sold rose by 7.4 percent and BMW said it "also remained on a growth course in Asia," where unit sales were up 27.1 percent.

Sales in China notably surged by 33.3 percent.

"We strive to achieve an appropriate balance in sales volume between Europe, North America and Asia, so as not to become overduly dependent on any one market," it said.

BMW said it aimed to achieve a sustainable operating margin of between 8.0-10.0 percent "in 2012 and beyond. However, depending on political and economic developments, actual margins could end up being above or below the targeted range," it said.

On the Frankfurt stock exchange, BNW shares were underperforming the market slightly, gaining only 0.16 percent while the overall DAX 30 stock index was up 0.5 percent.


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