UPDATE 1-BMW warns of difficult 2019 as it posts lower 2018 profit

* BMW 2018 EBIT falls 7.9 percent to 9.12 billion euros

* BMW’s automotive EBIT margin falls to 7.2 pct from 9.2 pct

* BMW to intensify cost cuts (Adds CFO comment)

FRANKFURT, March 15 (Reuters) - BMW will step up cost cutting in anticipation of a difficult year, the German carmaker said on Friday, as it reported a 7.9 percent fall in 2018 operating profit due to higher investments in electric cars and currency headwinds.

“We expect strong headwinds to continue to effect the entire sector in 2019,” Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter said in a statement.

“In view of current developments, we intend to further broaden and significantly intensify these (cost-cutting) efforts,” he said, adding the company would reduce the number of vehicle variants on offer.

As a result, BMW will not make a successor to the 3 series Gran Turismo model, it said.

BMW’s 2018 earnings before interest and taxes fell to 9.12 billion euros ($10.33 billion), just ahead of the 8.94 billion euros forecast by analysts in a poll.

The carmaker said its return on sales for its automotive division fell to 7.2 percent from 9.2 percent a year earlier, as investments in electric cars and a price war triggered by new emissions tests weighed on profit.

$1 = 0.8832 euros Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Thomas Seythal and Mark Potter