BMW 'cautiously optimistic' after record year

German top-of-the-range carmaker BMW said Tuesday it is "cautiously optimistic" for business in 2013 when it expects earnings to match the record levels reached last year.

"After achieving a record-breaking year in 2012, the BMW group's outlook for the current 12-month reporting period is cautiously optimistic, based on ambitious targets set amid a persisting difficult and volatile economic environment," BMW said in a statement.

"We are aiming to achieve a further rise in unit sales in the current year and hence a new sales volume record," said chief executive Norbert Reithofer.

However, earnings would likely remain stable, he said.

"Due to high levels of expenditure for new technologies and models as well as investment in the production network, we expect to report group profit before tax on a similar scale to the year 2012," Reithofer said.

As reported last week, net profit rose by 4.4 percent to 5.122 billion euros ($6.6 billion) in 2012 and pre-tax profit was up 5.9 percent at 7.819 billion euros.

Deliveries to customers grew by 10.6 percent to 1.845 million vehicles, driving revenues 11.7 percent higher to 76.848 billion euros.

BMW said that given the strong demand for its vehicles, it planned to continue investing in boosting capacity in 2013.

BMW's target is to sell more than two million vehicles per year from 2016.

"Development costs for new technologies and vehicle concepts will also continue to rise. 2013 alone will see the launch of eleven new models," BMW said.

On the back of its 2012 results, BMW is to pay an increased dividend of 2.50 euros per share compared with 2.30 euros for 2011.

BMW shares were little changed in early afternoon trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange, up fractionally by 0.03 percent in a slightly softer market.