BMW has reported net income up 15% in the third quarter, but a decline to operating profit in the core automotive division worried investors. BMW's share price came under pressure on the Frankfurt stock exchange today.

However, the company also posted record sales and profit for the third quarter. Net income was up 15% to EUR1.8bn and well above forecasts.

Earnings before interest and tax at BMW's core automotive division fell 3.9% to EUR1.8bn, partly because of higher employee costs. The unit's operating margin declined 0.6 percentage points to 8.5%

Third-quarter Group revenues were 4.6% higher than one year earlier EUR23,362m. In total, some 583,499 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles, were sold in the third quarter 2016 (+ 7.1 %), contributing to the solid increase of 6.2 % (1,746,638 units) recorded for the period from January to September.

Despite the 7.1% rise in sales for BMW, Rolls-Royce and MINI cars, the return on sales at BMW's automotive division fell to 8.5% from 9.1% in the same quarter last year.

BMW said that slower profitability in the third quarter was influenced by higher workforce numbers as well as changes in the model and regional sales mix.

After six years of high growth rates in the USA, BMW said that "clear signs of market consolidation have set in since the beginning of the year", resulting in new registrations to the end of September up by just 0.5% against last year.

BMW said the EBIT margin in the Automotive segment was 9.1% for the year to the end of September – and remains within a target range of 8 to 10%.

BMW reiterated its targets for the year – new all-time highs for group sales and earnings before tax.