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BMW earnings push higher on sales of 5-Series, X1 SUV

In this March 21, 2018 photo, the logo of German car manufacturer BMW is pictured at the headquarters in Munich, Germany. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- German automaker BMW AG saw first-quarter net profit rise slightly from an already high level as sales strengthened across all regions and the company's 5-Series sedan and X1 sport-utility logged double-digit increases.

    Net profit rose 1.2 percent to a record 2.301 billion euros ($2.757 billion), from 2.274 billion euros in the same quarter a year ago. Revenues for the Munich-based automaker fell 5 percent to 22.7 billion euros, mostly due to shifting currency exchange rates.

    The company increased its profit margin based on earnings before interest and taxes, a key earnings metric, to 9.7 percent from 9.4 percent.

    BMW is counting on continued strong profits to fund investment in new technologies such as autonomous and electric vehicles. CEO Harald Krueger said in a statement Friday that "we are combining tomorrow's mobility with sustainable profitability."

    Sales rose across the company's three main regions: Asia, North America and Europe. Sales of the 5-Series rose 13 percent to 94,733, while sales of the X1 small SUV jumped 17 percent to 77,296.

    The company's Rolls-Royce division saw sales rise 10 percent from the year-earlier quarter, to 807 vehicles. The company said demand remains strong with the exception of the Middle East, where the market remains volatile. A new version of the Phantom, the luxury brand's flagship model, has been on sale since January.

    The net profit figure beat expectations for 2.164 billion euros among analysts as compiled by financial information provider FactSet. BMW reaffirmed its profit target for the full year, saying its group profit before tax would be at least as high as last year's.

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