BMW tones down profit expectations as investment spend bites

By Edward Taylor

MUNICH (Reuters) – German carmaker BMW AG (BMWG.DE) said it expects 2015 sales volume and group profit before tax to rise by a medium to high single-digit percentage, issuing more subdued guidance than a year ago amid higher investment costs for new technologies.

BMW had last year predicted significant growth in 2014 pretax profit, which ended up rising 10.3 percent to 8.7 billion euros (6 billion pounds), while sales of its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands increased 7.9 percent to 2.12 million cars.

BMW shares, which had risen to a record 123.75 euros on Tuesday, fell as much as 3.9 percent in early trade and were down 2.9 percent at 117.50 euros by 9:33 a.m. The blue chip DAX index (.GDAXI) was down 0.2 percent.

“As always, our forecasts assume the economic conditions worldwide remain stable and won’t deteriorate,” Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer told reporters. “However many uncertainties remain. Important markets like China are losing momentum.”

BMW is investing in new technologies such as electric and hybrid drivetrains and carbon fibre technologies to help cut average vehicle fleet emissions to 95 grams per kilometre in Europe by 2021, from a current average of 130 grams.

At his final annual results conference after 8-1/2 years as chief, Reithofer, who received 7.49 million euros in total pay for 2014 according to the group’s annual report, said there were challenges ahead for his successor Harald Krueger, who takes over on May 13.

“The team I’m leaving knows very well just how much there is to do in the years to come,” Reithofer said. “The future belongs to the next generation. It is for them to shape the company’s further development according to their vision.”

(Editing by Maria Sheahan and David Holmes)

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