* BMW says group vehicle sales rose 14.2 pct in 2011
* December vehicle sales rose 11.9 pct
* CEO tells WSJ company aims to grow faster than market
* Analyst says sees premium carmakers winning out in 2012
By Christoph Steitz and Jonathan Gould
FRANKFURT, Jan 9 BMW posted
record car sales for 2011 and forecast that a boom in luxury
cars would keep it ahead of rivals this year as the world's
biggest maker of premium cars enjoys strong demand from China
and the United States.
The Munich-based company said on Monday that worldwide sales
of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce cars rose 14.2 percent to 1.67
million last year as it sold more X3 sport
untility vehicles , 5 Series models and MINIs.
Appetite for BMW's ultra-luxury cars reached a new
high, with annual sales of Rolls-Royce vehicles in 2011 rising
to the highest level in the company's 107-year history, jumping
almost 31 percent to 3,538 cars.
Finance chief Friedrich Eichiner said last week he expected
the global market for premium cars to grow at more than 8
percent this year, more than twice as fast as the overall car
market, which should work in favour of BMW.
Volkswagen said last week that 2011 sales of luxury Bentley
cars rose 37 percent to 7,003 after recording the brand's
second-highest sales volume ever in December.
Credit Suisse analyst Arndt Ellinghorst raised his
target price on BMW shares to 76 euros from 72 euros, saying he
expects premium carmakers to come out ahead this year as the gap
between the strong and the
weak widens further.
"Globalisation of demand and the emergence of wealth in
emerging markets have widened the gap between global players
with strong brand equity and weak domestically-dependent
brands," Ellinghorst said in a note one Monday.
BMW's biggest single market is the United States, where
it sells about 18 percent of its vehicles. It is followed by
German y and China, accounting for 17.8
percent and almost 14 percent, respectively.
BMW said the rate of sales growth slowed to 11.9 percent in
The s hares were up 1.6 percent at
56.44 euros by 1118 GMT, making them the biggest gainer on the
German blue-chip index and outperforming the STOXX
Europe 600 Automobiles & Parts index, which was up 0.4
BMW Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer earlier said
in a newspaper interview that he was "very optimistic about the
U.S. market's growth prospects", after the German carmaker's
sales there grew by almost 15 percent there in 2011.
Reithofer told The Wall Street Journal he expects
vehicle sales growth to be fastest in the second half of
the year thanks to the market launch of the new BMW 3 Series
One in three BMWs sold is a 3 Series, and the new car is
crucial for BMW to fend off rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi
, the premium brand of Volkswagen.
Reithofer's comments come as the Detroit Auto Show
opens on Monday, where car makers are showing off upcoming
models such as Cadillac's ATS, with which General Motors
is squarely targeting BMW's 3 Series.
BMW grabbed the top spot in the U.S. luxury car market
last year , edging out Toyota's Lexus and Daimler's
Reithofer said he expects BMW to grow faster than
the overall market this year, after entering the new year with
"We're starting 2012 with a very good order book and very
young model range ... this should provide some momentum."
Analysts are forecasting BMW's 2012
revenues to ris e 1.5
percent to about 69 billion euros ($88 billion), according to
Reuters data, while earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) are
pencilled in at down
a lmost 14 percent at about 6.9 billion
euros, weighed down by costs for the 3 Series model
They expect BMW to have reached its target of a 2011
operating margin above 10 percent at its automotive business.
BMW is due to publish 2011 results on March 13.