German top-of-the-range carmaker BMW said Wednesday it clocked up record sales and profits in 2015 and would celebrate its centenary this year by increasing its dividend payout to shareholders.
"The BMW group achieved its sixth record-breaking year in succession in 2015, posting new highs to date for sales volumes, revenues and profit, despite a volatile market environment," the carmaker said in a statement.
Net profit rose by 10 percent to 6.4 billion euros ($7.0 billion) in 2015 and, to mark the group's centenary, BMW planned to pay an increased dividend of 3.20 euros per ordinary share and 3.22 euros per preferred share, the statement said.
For the previous year, shareholders had been paid dividends of 2.90 euros and 2.92 euros respectively.
"We have met all of our ambitious targets for the financial year," said chief executive Harald Krueger, calling the results "another set of impressive figures in BMW's centenary year."
BMW celebrated its 100th birthday earlier this week, throwing a lavish party in its home city of Munich.
Leading its rival Daimler-Benz in units sold, and with giant Volkswagen damaged by the emissions scandal, BMW remains in pole position at the high end of the auto industry and is seen as a symbol of German engineering prowess.
In terms of the total number of vehicles, unit sales were up 6.1 percent at a new record of 2.247 million vehicles worldwide last year.
Sales of BMW's own brand were up 5.2 percent at 1.9 million and sales of Mini cars sped ahead by 12 percent to 338,466. By contrast, sales of its premium Rolls-Royce brand were down 6.8 percent at 3,785 cars.
Thanks to favourable exchange rates, revenues climbed by 14.6 percent to 92.2 billion euros.
Underlying or operating profit was up by 5.2 percent at 9.6 billion euros, mainly on the back of sales volume growth.
- 'Fine performance' -
"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," said CEO Krueger.
"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," he said.
Looking ahead to the current year, the upward trend in worldwide sales by volume is forecast to continue in 2016.
"We are again targeting a new sales volume record in 2016, with sales expected to be slightly up on the previous year," said CEO Krueger, adding that "the global political and economic environment is also expected to remain volatile."
Despite BMW's optimistic outlook, investors appeared to be disappointed about the size of the dividend and the group's shares were the biggest losers on the Frankfurt stock exchange, shedding 2.2 percent to 78.25 euros while the overall blue-chip DAX 30 index was up 0.73 percent.
The dividend proposal "came in below expectations," said DZ-Bank analyst Michael Punzet.
"We had also expected a bonus payment of 1.00 euro related to BMW's 100-year anniversary."