BMW earnings rise 4.4 per cent, boosted by strong sales of 1-series compact, 3-series sedan

FRANKFURT – German automaker BMW says net profit increased 4.4 per cent to €5.1 billion ($6.6 billion) in 2012 — hailing it as its “most successful year” — thanks to a big sales jump in Asia and a better market in the United States.

The company, based in Munich, said Thursday that unit sales rose 31 per cent in Asia, including a 40 per cent rise in China excluding Hong Kong, and 14 per cent in in the U.S. Sales of the 1-series compact increased 28 per cent while the mainstay 3-series sedan saw a 6 per cent rise.

Overall revenues rose 12 per cent to €76.8 billion. The company said profits rose less steeply than revenues because of investments in new technologies and increased personnel costs.

Still, CEO Norbert Reithofer called it “the most successful year in BMW Group corporate history.” The company’s workforce grew by 6 per cent last year to 105,876 and the company said it was still looking for engineers and other skilled workers to keep pace with sales demand and technological change.

Fourth-quarter earnings jumped 37 per cent to €1.2 billion on sales that rose 12 per cent to €20.5 billion.

Reithofer gave a cautious outlook, saying sales would increase but that “economic conditions are likely to remain challenging in many markets.”

BWM AG shares traded down 0.4 per cent at €70.98.