FRANKFURT -- BMW reported a 10.9 percent rise in 2004 pretax profit on Thursday and proposed buying back up to 10 percent of its share capital.
Earnings before tax climbed to 3.554 billion euros ($4.75 billion) in 2004 from 3.205 billion euros in the previous year, in line with a consensus estimate of 3.544 billion euros.
After proposing to hike its dividend for common shares to 0.62 euros from last year's 0.58 euros, the Munich-based carmaker said it would ask shareholders for permission to buy back and cancel up to 10 percent of the company's share capital.
"The positive development of cash flows over the past years has enabled the BMW Group to accumulate a substantial level of cash funds and to achieve a solid equity ratio," it said in a statement, adding that cash flow would continue to grow "dynamically" over the coming years.
Buoyed by strong demand for hot new models such as the X3 offroader, BMW toppled its beleaguered arch-rival Mercedes Car Group, a unit of DaimlerChrysler, from the pedestal as the world's largest luxury carmaker last year.
Pretax profit at the company's core automotive division rose an even stronger 14.4 percent to 3.159 billion euros in 2004.
Group net profits last year increased 14.1 percent to 2.222 billion euros.