MUNICH -- BMW expects record revenue and earnings this year as the German luxury carmaker's sales grow by a high single-digit percentage, Chief Executive Helmut Panke told journalists in comments embargoed for Friday.
BMW has been one of the few growth stories in the car industry thanks to the launch of new models like the 6-series coupe and convertible, the X3 compact off-roader and the 1-series compact due in September.
After vehicle sales of its BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini brands rose 8.5 percent in the first six months of 2004, eclipsing rival DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes Car Group, Panke repeated a promise to deliver the best ever revenue and profits.
"We expect to see a rise in group car sales in the high-single digit percentage by the end of the year compared with last year," Panke told reporters late on Thursday.
The company aims to achieve "new records in sales for all three brands, as well as in group revenues and earnings," he said.
Panke also expressed his confidence that second-quarter results, due on August 4, would mirror BMW's strong car sales figures.
"We're confident and convinced that the financial figures will correspond to the development of sales volumes," he said.
Chief Financial Officer Stefan Krause would not rule out an improvement in profit margins at its core automotive division.
"We said earnings growth would reflect growth in vehicle sales, but we never said margins wouldn't grow," he said on the sidelines of the event.
"Analysts had concluded earnings growth in-line with sales means flat margins for the year, but mathematically that's not necessarily the case."
Krause also said that the company would not need to funnel cash into new capacity in order to reach its long-term goal of selling 1.4 million vehicles by 2008.
"Including the outsourcing at Magna Steyr, we do not need to make new investments in additional capacity to build the 1.4 million," he said.
ROLLS ORDERS PICK UP
Panke said the company was considering launching a new pure-blooded sports car that would fill the gap left after BMW stopped making its high-end Z8 sports car and compete with rivals such as the Porsche 911.
"It's certainly an attractive segment and we're considering bringing out on the market a more sporty model within the upper segment," he said, adding though that it would not necessarily be a second-generation Z8.
BMW is not mulling a face off with top-model sports cars such the Porsche Carrera GT or Mercedes SLR McLaren. "We are not considering building a super-sports car," he said.
Panke also reaffirmed BMW's aim to boost sales of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom to 1,000 from 300 last year, although he said this was not a strict target.
"Even if we only sell 899 or 915, we wouldn't push Rolls-Royce management into a corner and say 'you haven't reached the goal'," Panke said.
In the first half, the company has only delivered 319 units of the super-luxury Phantom, but Panke said orders had picked up during the summer.
There is already a five-digit-strong order book for the BMW 1-series.