BMW profits fall on tougher European markets

Minis in the forecourt of a dealership BMW, which also owns the Mini and Rolls-Royce marques, is doing better than many rivals

BMW saw profits fall in the first quarter of 2013 after the carmaker suffered tougher trading in Europe.

Net profits at the German company fell 3% to 1.31bn euros ($1.7bn; £1.1bn) on revenues down 4.1% to 17.54bn euros.

BMW, which also owns Mini and Rolls-Royce, delivered 448,200 vehicles worldwide in the quarter, up 5.3%.

"We don't expect to receive a great deal of impetus from most European markets over the next few months," said chief executive Norbert Reithofer

But he said that elsewhere in the world, BMW had made a good start to the year.

"We achieved a new sales volume record for a first quarter and we managed to keep revenues and earnings at high levels," he said.

This should ensure that total annual profits remain at the same levels as last year, he said.

Christian Stadler, associate professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School, described BMW's performance as comparatively "healthy", pointing to how its strength in the US and China helped to compensate for weak sales in Europe.

BMW at the Shanghai motor show BMW's strong sales in China helped compensate for weakness in Europe

"The car industry is suffering just as the European economy is suffering," he said, though there were "firms bucking the trend".

"High-end brands aimed at richer customers are not doing as badly," he said.

"Car firms positioned in this way will be able to avoid the worst of the European slowdown."

According to industry data, sales in Europe for all carmakers fell 9.8% in March, the 18th drop in a row, with little sign of a turnaround.

Last week, Daimler and Volkswagen reported falls in first-quarter profits, also hit by the slump in European car sales.

"If you look at Germany, BMW is not doing as badly as Volkswagen," said Mr Stadler.

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