BMW operating profits up by 20.6 per cent

<p>The German carmaker reports strong demand for SUVs.</p>

BMW has released its first-quarter results, which show the company's operating profit has risen by 20.6 per cent, thanks to continued growth in Europe and the US.

The German car manufacturer's earnings before profit (EBIT) for the first three months of the year were 2.52 billion euros (£1.87 billion) - coming in above the 2.191 billion euros forecast in a Reuters poll. In addition, revenues in the January-to-March period rose to 20.9 billion euros – a 14.7 per cent rise.

"The BMW group continued to perform well during the first three months of 2015, with sales volume, revenues, profits all rising to new highs," the company said in a statement.

BMW says its profits have been lifted by increased demand for sports utility vehicles, such as its X5 model, in Europe and the US. Continued, but slow, growth in China also provided a boost.

The company added that sales of luxury vehicles and motorcycles should remain strong in coming months.

German brokerage Lang & Schwartz reported that shares in BMW were indicated up 2.3 per cent before the 08:00 (BST) opening in Frankfurt this morning.

BMW's automotive EBIT margin was 9.5 per cent in the quarter. This is similar to the same period last year, says Reuters. It's also at the upper end of its target range of eight to ten per cent.

First-quarter sales were up 5.4 per cent at 451,576 cars – this included a 30 per cent increase in deliveries of the brand's X5 SUV. The company also said it expects record sales and profit before tax this year, due to its launch of 15 new or upgraded Rolls-Royce, Mini and BMW models.

However, chief executive Norbert Reithofer also warned that some regions, such as Russia, continue to be difficult.

"The situation on the Russian automobile market, for instance, is likely to remain difficult. The ongoing process of normalisation of the Chinese automobile market is also likely to continue, resulting in less dynamic growth," he explained.

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