Frankfurt: BMW beat expectations in the first quarter on the back of continued strong demand for luxury cars in China and growth in the United States.
The company said it still aims to sell more than 1.5 million cars this year and post higher earnings than in 2010.
BMW, which also owns the Rolls-Royce and Mini brands, said on Wednesday its operating profit rose more than fourfold to €1.90 billion ($2.8 billion), exceeding the average analyst estimate of €1.51 billion in a Reuters poll.
The strong results echo rivals Volkswagen and Daimler whose sales growth was fuelled by demand for cars in emerging markets such as China.
Global luxury car makers, from Volkswagen’s Audi to Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, have racked up eye-popping sales in China, where a growing army of super-rich is fuelling demand for premium items such as Gucci handbags and Rolls-Royce cars.
But China’s car market -- the world’s biggest ahead of the United States -- is expected to cool this year amid rising fuel prices and tighter rules on registration after surging by a third to a record high in 2010.
The US market, for its part, is lending extra support to the industry with US vehicle sales up nearly 18% in April and nearly 20% in the first four months of the year.
BMW’s sales in the United States rose 19.6% in April, accelerating slightly from the first quarter.