By Victoria Waldersee
BERLIN (Reuters) -BMW forecast strong fourth quarter sales on Friday and said its order book was filled into the first few months of next year, with executives adding they saw no need to cut prices as some rival automakers have.
Vehicle availability was improving as supply chain bottlenecks eased, though higher material and logistics costs persisted, particularly for labour, the German group said.
Shares were up 3.3% at 1035 GMT, with third-quarter results largely in line with expectations and delivered in a more optimistic tone than some competitors, which warned of a subdued market environment curbing demand.
Pressed on whether BMW felt the need to cut prices to boost electric vehicle demand, particularly in China where a battle for market share has raged this year, Chief Executive Oliver Zipse said this approach was not in BMW’s playbook.
“We have no interest in sinking prices to gain market share. That’s not our strategy. And as you can see, we are managing to grow substantially even with very acceptable prices,” he said.
The premium carmaker has forecast an annual margin on earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in its cars division of 9.0%-10.5% and is on course to hit that target with a 10.3% margin so far this year, it said.
Higher-priced and fully electric cars boosted quarterly revenues above expectations of eight analysts polled by LSEG to 38.5 billion euros ($40.92 billion), but group net profit fell 7.7% after last year’s figure benefited from a one-off boost when BMW took majority control of its Chinese joint venture.
The company saw some slight relief in raw material prices in the quarter versus last year but nonetheless felt an impact of 200 million euros from the net balance of currency and raw material positions, Chief Financial Officer Walter Mertl said.
Materials and logistics costs remain high, with a notable negative impact across the first nine months of 2023 due to factors including high labour costs from partners, he added.
In a statement, BMW made no mention of high interest rates or inflation weighing on growth, in contrast to competitors such as Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
Fully electric sales hit 15.1% of total sales in the third quarter, outstripping BMW’s end-year target of 15%. Models from the upper price segment, like the 7 Series, the updated BMW X7, and the BMW X5 and BMW X6 models, are also driving sales growth.
Free cash flow for the automotive business so far this year came in at 5.7 billion euros, near the full-year forecast of 6 billion.
($1 = 0.9409 euros)
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Christina Amann; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Mark Potter)