BMW keeps foot down for 2017 after record year

BMW says it will step on it again this year after record 2016 profit

German luxury carmaker BMW said Thursday it had boosted profits in 2016 on the back of record sales, offering an increased dividend and promising further growth this year.

Net profit grew 8.0 percent over 2015's figure to reach 6.9 billion euros ($7.3 billion), the group said in a statement, as revenues grew a more modest 2.2. percent to reach 94.1 billion -- both new records for BMW.

Operating, or underlying profit fell by 2.2 percent to 9.4 billion euros.

Looking ahead to the current year, "we are again targeting a new sales volume record in 2017, with sales slightly up on the previous year," chief executive Harald Krueger said.

But "the BMW Group expects the global political and economic environment to remain volatile," as Brexit and potential trade restrictions in the United States loom on the horizon.

BMW was attacked by Donald Trump in a January interview before taking office as US president in which he warned the German firm not to go ahead with a planned factory in Mexico or face harsh border taxes.

The Munich-based group, which also owns Mini and Rolls-Royce, sold a total of almost 2.4 million vehicles in 2016.

Its new unit sales record wasn't enough to outshine Stuttgart rival Daimler, whose Mercedes-Benz flagship outsold BMW's own-brand cars for the first time in more than a decade last year.

BMW plans to offer shareholders a dividend of 3.50 euros per share, up from a 3.20-euro payout for the financial year 2015.

But investors gave the 2016 results a guarded response, sending BMW's shares lower on the Frankfurt stock exchange.

Dealers said they worried about a decline in the automaker's EBIT, or profit before financials, a measure of its operating performance.

Group EBIT fell by 2.2 percent in 2016 and by 1.8 percent for the automotive segment alone, outweighing increases in the motorcycles and financial services divisions.

BMW shares were down 2.5 percent around midday at 84.12 euros.