BMW Profit Jumps 10% on Strong Sales and Currency Swings

BMW's headquarters in Munich. Image source: Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

Bayerische Motoren Werke , better known to Americans as German luxury-car giant BMW, released a summary of its full-year 2015 earnings on March 9. Here's what investors need to know.

The key numbersAll financial results are in millions of euros.

2015 2014 Change
Revenue 92,175 80,401 +14.6%
Units Sold: Autos 2,247,485 2,117,965 +6.1%
Units Sold: Motorcycles 136,963 123,495 +10.9%
EBIT 9,593 9,118 +5.2%
EBIT Margin 10.4% 11.3% -0.9 points
Net Income 6,396 5,817 +10%

What happened with BMW in 2015BMW said that 2015 was its "sixth record-breaking year in succession." The company set all-time highs for sales volumes, revenue, and pre-tax profit -- despite volatile conditions in China and slowing growth of the new-car market in the United States.

Revenue jumped over 14% thanks in part to favorable currency factors, as the U.S. dollar appreciated against the euro. EBIT margin slipped a bit from 2014's outstanding result, but the bottom line was still very strong: BMW's net profit of 6.4 billion euros ($7.02 billion) was its first-ever result to exceed 6 billion euros.

BMW's Automotive unit achieved an EBIT margin of 9.2% in 2015. That was down slightly from the 9.6% margin it posted in 2014, but it was still within the company's targeted range. It was stronger than the 8.3% margin posted by rivalAudi, which was hit by costs related to parentVolkswagen's diesel-emissions scandal, but it trailed the impressive 10% EBIT margin at BMW's old archrivalDaimler's Mercedes-Benz unit.

Within Automotive, the BMW brand posted a 5.2% sales gain in 2015, on very strong sales of the 2 Series sedans and 4 Series coupes. Sales were up 12% at Mini, but down slightly from a record 2014 at Rolls-Royce (but still good enough for the second-best result in the 112-year-old British luxury brand's history, BMW noted in a statement).

BMW's 4 Series coupes had a strong 2015. Image source: Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

The EBIT margin at BMW Motorrad, the company's motorcycle business, was 10.9% in 2015, up substantially from its 2014 result of 6.7% on a better mix of sales as well as those favorable exchange-rate shifts.

What BMW's CEO said about the company's 2015 result"We have met all of our ambitious targets for the financial year," said CEO Harald Krueger in a statement. "With another set of impressive figures in its centenary year, the BMW Group remains the world's leading provider of premium vehicles and mobility services."

Krueger said that BMW would boost its dividend and bonus payouts to employees in the wake of the strong 2015 result. "The exemplary commitment of our workforce and the unfailing trust placed in us by our shareholders are the key topics that run through the BMW Group's success story," he said. "To mark the company's centenary, we are once again raising the associate bonus for our permanent staff in Germany, the highest amount paid in the German premium auto industry. Dividend payments to our shareholders will also exceed the two billion euro mark for the first time, reflecting the BMW Group's fine performance in 2015."

What's ahead for BMW: Full results and guidance due on March 16BMW's report on March 9 was just a summary of its full-year result. The company will release its complete fourth-quarter and full-year financial result on March 16. It said that it will also hold a press conference and release its full guidance for 2016 at that time.

But Krueger did give one hint of his expectations for BMW in 2016. While he expects that the global political and economic environment will continue to be "volatile" as the year unfolds, he expects BMW's sales to hit another record for the year thanks in part to the all-new 7 Series sedan. "We are again targeting a new sales volume record in 2016, with sales expected to be slightly up on the previous year," Krueger said.

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