FRANKFURT -- BMW said on Thursday it had another record year for profits in 2002, with pre-tax earnings rising 1.7 percent to 3.297 billion euros ($3.6 billion), broadly in line with expectations.
The Munich-based group said net profits rose 8.3 percent to 2.02 billion euros and that it would propose an unchanged dividend of 0.52 euros per common share.
It gave no profit outlook for 2003.
A Reuters poll of 23 analysts had on average forecast a 2.5 percent rise in group pre-tax profits to 3.32 billion euros in a range of 3.2 billion to 3.7 billion euros.
BMW's focus on high-margin luxury cars has in the past kept its profits roaring ahead of mainstream rivals but it is currently grappling with the costs of the conducting biggest product offensive in its history at a time when auto markets are weak.
The group's stock has underperformed the European sector by over 10 percent since it posted third-quarter figures in early November that showed high launch and development costs were putting pressure on its profit margins.
The shares were up 3.98 percent at 21.95 euros by 1158 GMT, marginally outperforming the European sector.
BMW has said it expects higher sales for all its brands this year after the new products start to hit the market in the second half, although analysts expect a fall in profits in the first six months as launch costs continue to weigh.
"BMW's current 'triple whammy' of poor product cycle position, high product portfolio expansion costs and weak markets are all liable to prove temporary," SSSB analysts, who rate the stock "in-line, medium risk", said in a recent note.
BMW, which is launching an updated version of its profit-driving 5-series saloon and unveiling a new X3 sports utility vehicle later in the year, has so far declined to give an earnings forecast for 2003, citing the global political uncertainty.