MUNICH -- BMW said third-quarter earnings before interest and tax rose 17 percent to 2.26 billion euros ($2.83 billion) as surging demand for its SUVs more than offset slow sales of its electric cars and Mini brand.
Profitability at the automotive division widened to 9.4 percent of sales from a margin of 9 percent a year earlier, beating Audi's 9.2 percent and Mercedes-Benz's two-year high profit margin of 8.5 percent.
BMW stuck to its forecast for a "significant" increase in 2014 pretax profit from last year’s 7.9 billion euros.
"We continued to perform well in both the third quarter and over nine-month period within an increasingly challenging environment," CEO Norbert Reithofer said in a statement today.
Group revenues increased in the quarter by 5 percent to 19. 6 billion euros ($24.5 billion) on the back of higher sales volume, BMW said. Global deliveries of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles were up 6 percent in the quarter to a record 509,669 units.
Sales of BMW branded cars rose 7 percent, helped by strong demand for X1, X4 and X5 SUVs. Mini sales were flat at 75,633. Mini's full-year sales are likely to be back to the high level of last year, helped by the new Mini 5-door, BMW said. Global deliveries of Rolls-Royce cars increased by 8 percent to 891 units.
Sales of the i3 electric car reached 10,199 vehicles by end September. In February, BMW said it had received "more than 11,000 orders" for the i3 hatchback.
"BMW continues to deliver very strong earnings and the outlook for the rest of this year remains very encouraging in our view," said Arndt Ellinghorst, head of automotive research at Evercore ISI Autos.