BMW upbeat after 'good start' to year

Image caption,
BMW has high hopes for the new 5-series, which was launched in March

Carmaker BMW has reported a return to profit compared with a year earlier and given an upbeat forecast for sales in the coming year.

The group reported a net profit of 324m euros ($420m; £277m) for the first three months of the year, against a loss of 152m euros a year ago.

Sales came in at 12.4bn euros, up 8% on the 11.5bn euros the firm reported for the first quarter of 2009.

The company sold twice as many cars in China as it did a year earlier.

BMW made a loss in the first quarter last year due to low sales during the economic downturn.

Increased competition

"The BMW Group has made a good start to 2010," said BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer.

"We increased earnings significantly in the first quarter and are now back on a growth course on almost all car markets."

He said the group was aiming to achieve "significantly" higher earnings in 2010 than in 2009.

To achieve this, Mr Reithofer said BMW aimed to sell 1.3 million cars this year.

BMW launched the new 5-series earlier this year, a model that it hopes will boost revenue and help the company hold on to its position as the world's biggest selling luxury carmaker in the face of increasing competition from Audi and Mercedes.

Historically, the 5-series has contributed a significant proportion of BMW's overall sales.

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