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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."
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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.