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BMW beats pre-pandemic earnings, but chip troubles hit fourth quarter

Earnings thanks to higher prices and strong sales, despite supply issues

BERLIN — BMW more than doubled pre-pandemic earnings in 2021 to 16 billion euros ($17.67 billion), the company said on Thursday, as higher prices and strong sales of top-end cars boosted revenue despite supply chain constraints.

The premium carmaker, which sold a record 2.52 million vehicles last year despite semiconductor shortages, reported a 10.3% earnings margin for the year, its highest since 2017.

Still, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in its automotive segment took a 4.2% hit in the fourth quarter as the global chip shortage, which BMW has so far weathered better than competitors, caused a drop in deliveries of 14.2%.

Quarterly net profit for the group came in at $2.04 billion, a third higher than last year but well below 2019 levels of $4.54 billion.

BMW's share price tumbled 7% from yesterday's close to $64.23  at 1303 GMT, hitting the bottom of Germany’s bluechip index alongside Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz Group and in line with a European-wide slump in auto shares amid fears over disruptions to supplies.

French carmaker Renault, Stellantis as well as Swedish Volvo were all among the worst performers of their respective indexes on Thursday.

Premium carmakers have largely been better positioned to weather supply chain troubles than value brands because they can push higher costs onto consumers through elevated prices.

Mercedes-Benz, for example, registered a 24.7% fall in deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2021 but still boosted its EBIT by 12% in its cars and vans division.

BMW's revenues climbed 12.4% from last year to $100.5 billion, with net profit reaching a record high of $11.28 billion.

"We are in a good position and optimistic about the future," Chief Financial Executive Nicolas Peter said.

The company will propose a dividend of $5.25 per share, up from last year's $1.72, it said.

($1 = 0.9053 euros)

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Tristan Chabba; Editing by Madeline Chambers, Miranda Murray and Elaine Hardcastle)

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