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BMW Group first-quarter revenues up 14.1 per cent

Best first-quarter figures in the company’s corporate history.

The German luxury car maker BMW Group has reported first-quarter revenues of €18.29bn for the first-quarter of 2012, an increase of 14.1 per cent compared to €16.04bn for the same period last year.

Profit before financial result  rose by 18.8 per cent to €2.13bn, while profit before tax climbed by 21.8 per cent to €2.08bn. Group net profit increased by 18.1 per cent and reached €1.35bn.
Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the board of management at BMW AG, said: "We have recorded the best first-quarter figures ever -- for sales volume, revenues and earnings -- in the BMW Group’s corporate history. The main reasons for this positive performance are the strong demand worldwide for the BMW Group’s attractive vehicles, the strength of the BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands as well as improvements in efficiency."
The number of vehicles sold by the group during the first-quarter rose by 11.2 per cent to 425,528 units (2011: 382,758 units). Automotive segment revenues rose by 12.4 per cent to €16.16bn.
The BMW brand recorded worldwide growth of 11 per cent in the first-quarter with sales of 356,548 units (2011: 321,175 units). Sales of the new BMW 6 Series jumped to 4,651 units (2011: 789 units), while the BMW 7 Series recorded a first-quarter sales volume of 17,786 units (2011: 14,817 units).
The MINI brand sales increased by 12.1 per cent to 68,210 units (2011: 60,860 units). The group sold 770 units of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (2011: 723 units), registering its best first-quarter sales performance.
The group’s sales in Europe edged up by 0.5 per cent to 201,063 units. New sales volume highs were recorded in both North America and Asia. In total, 83,177 vehicles were handed over to customers in North America during the period under report. Sales in the US rose by 16.5 per cent to 75,931 units. The group sold 118,880 units in Asia during the first-quarter.
Motorcycles segment revenues increased by 12.8 per cent to €448m (2011: €397m). EBIT improved by 19.4 per cent to €37m (2011: €31m) and profit before tax by 23.3 per cent to €37m (2011: €30m).
The Financial Services segment revenues totalled €4.8bn (2011: €4.18bn). The profit before tax edged up by 1.2% to € 434m.
The group’s number of employees worldwide went up by 5.4 per cent to 101,260 at the end of 31 March 2012 (2011: 96,045).
For 2012, the group continues to target an EBIT margin between 8 and 10 per cent in the automotive segment, while the financial services segment continues to target a return on equity of at least 18 per cent.
Reithofer added: "We are still aiming to achieve new record figures for sales volume and pre-tax earnings in 2012. The BMW Group plans to grow faster than the market as a whole in the current year and expects to achieve new sales volume records for its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands."
Photo: Getty Images
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How can Britain become a nation of homeowners?

David Cameron must unlock the spirit of his postwar predecessors to get the housing market back on track. 

In the 1955 election, Anthony Eden described turning Britain into a “property-owning democracy” as his – and by extension, the Conservative Party’s – overarching mission.

60 years later, what’s changed? Then, as now, an Old Etonian sits in Downing Street. Then, as now, Labour are badly riven between left and right, with their last stay in government widely believed – by their activists at least – to have been a disappointment. Then as now, few commentators seriously believe the Tories will be out of power any time soon.

But as for a property-owning democracy? That’s going less well.

When Eden won in 1955, around a third of people owned their own homes. By the time the Conservative government gave way to Harold Wilson in 1964, 42 per cent of households were owner-occupiers.

That kicked off a long period – from the mid-50s right until the fall of the Berlin Wall – in which home ownership increased, before staying roughly flat at 70 per cent of the population from 1991 to 2001.

But over the course of the next decade, for the first time in over a hundred years, the proportion of owner-occupiers went to into reverse. Just 64 percent of households were owner-occupier in 2011. No-one seriously believes that number will have gone anywhere other than down by the time of the next census in 2021. Most troublingly, in London – which, for the most part, gives us a fairly accurate idea of what the demographics of Britain as a whole will be in 30 years’ time – more than half of households are now renters.

What’s gone wrong?

In short, property prices have shot out of reach of increasing numbers of people. The British housing market increasingly gets a failing grade at “Social Contract 101”: could someone, without a backstop of parental or family capital, entering the workforce today, working full-time, seriously hope to retire in 50 years in their own home with their mortgage paid off?

It’s useful to compare and contrast the policy levers of those two Old Etonians, Eden and Cameron. Cameron, so far, has favoured demand-side solutions: Help to Buy and the new Help to Buy ISA.

To take the second, newer of those two policy innovations first: the Help to Buy ISA. Does it work?

Well, if you are a pre-existing saver – you can’t use the Help to Buy ISA for another tax year. And you have to stop putting money into any existing ISAs. So anyone putting a little aside at the moment – not going to feel the benefit of a Help to Buy ISA.

And anyone solely reliant on a Help to Buy ISA – the most you can benefit from, if you are single, it is an extra three grand from the government. This is not going to shift any houses any time soon.

What it is is a bung for the only working-age demographic to have done well out of the Coalition: dual-earner couples with no children earning above average income.

What about Help to Buy itself? At the margins, Help to Buy is helping some people achieve completions – while driving up the big disincentive to home ownership in the shape of prices – and creating sub-prime style risks for the taxpayer in future.

Eden, in contrast, preferred supply-side policies: his government, like every peacetime government from Baldwin until Thatcher’s it was a housebuilding government.

Why are house prices so high? Because there aren’t enough of them. The sector is over-regulated, underprovided, there isn’t enough housing either for social lets or for buyers. And until today’s Conservatives rediscover the spirit of Eden, that is unlikely to change.

I was at a Conservative party fringe (I was on the far left, both in terms of seating and politics).This is what I said, minus the ums, the ahs, and the moment my screensaver kicked in.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.