BMW Overcomes Cooling in China, Beats Earnings Expectations

NEW YORK (The Street) -- BMW (BAMXYovercame concerns of a slowing Chinese market to post a 21% increase in first-quarter earnings before interest and taxes as revenue jumped 15%.

Earnings at the Munich-based manufacturer of luxury automobiles beat analysts' expectations. 

Analysts had been worried about the company's warnings of slowing growth in the red-hot Chinese market. Nevertheless, BMW managed to maintain its automotive operating profit margin as a function of sales, at 9.5% -- within the 8%-10% goal set forth by CEO Norbert Reithofer, who retires this month.

Regarding the cooling of the China market, Reithofer said in a statement: "We have always said that such a development would come, and so it has. We call this the 'new normal' and of course we considered this situation in our planning."

Reithofer will be succeeded by Harald Kruger, who moves up from the role of management board member in charge of manufacturing.

Despite beating estimates, BMW shares fell in European trading, as did the shares of other major German companies on concerns over Europe's economic troubles in Greece and worries about the euro. Since the beginning of the year, shares are up about 16%, roughly tracking the DAX Index of 30 large German companies.

BMW has dropped prices in China and trimmed production in response to the slowing economy. Consequently, shipments in China in the quarter rose 6.4% compared with the same period a year ago. In 2014, the full-year growth rate was 17% for shipments in China.

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