[FRANKFURT] German carmaker BMW AG said its first-quarter operating profit rose by a forecast-beating 20.6 per cent, lifted by strong demand for large offroader luxury cars in Europe and the United States.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) came in at 2.52 billion euros (S$3.75 billion), above the 2.191 billion euros forecast in a Reuters poll.
BMW said on Wednesday its automotive EBIT margin was 9.5 per cent in the quarter, remaining at a similar level to the year-earlier quarter and at the upper end of its target range of between 8 per cent and 10 per cent.
By contrast, the quarterly return on sales from ongoing business at rival Mercedes-Benz Cars jumped to 9.2 per cent from 7 per cent a year ago, while Audi's operating margin slipped to 9.7 per cent from 10.1 per cent.
First-quarter BMW brand sales were up 5.4 per cent at 451,576 cars, the Munich-based automaker said, citing continued growth in Europe, North America and China and a 30 per cent jump in deliveries of the X5 sports utility vehicle.