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BMW Speed Away With 54% Profit Jump

The German auto group says that strong demand and the disposal of Rover helped profits...

BMW?s profit soared by 54 percent to a record in 2001 as sales rose and the world's second largest luxury carmaker enjoyed its first full year without its unprofitable Rover unit in the U.K.
With vehicle sales up by 18 percent so far this year, the Munich- based automaker expects higher earnings again in 2002 as unit sales possibly top 1 million for the first time. BMW raised its dividend 13 percent to 52 cents a common share.
Demand for BMW's X-5 sport-utility vehicle and the mid-size 3- Series car, its most popular model, grew even as the economy and the car markets in the US and Western Europe slumped. Prior year earnings were hurt by four months of losses at Rover.
?The key for BMW is product, product, product,? said Xavier Gunner, an analyst at UBS Warburg, who has a ?buy? rating on the company's shares. ?Earnings were driven by the life cycle of their cars and their product mix. They had a great year with the X- 5. And, of course, there is the year-on-year effect of Rover.?