BMW plans to set new sales and profit records in 2004, chairman Helmut Panke told the annual general meeting.

“We will achieve new records in 2004 in both sales volume and earnings. The BMW group is therefore entering a period of growing returns generated by our ongoing product and market initiative.”

“Consistently expanding its product portfolio and developing new markets, the group has grown into a new dimension. Today we are stronger than ever before in every respect. We stand on a healthy foundation and will also be one of the most profitable automobile manufacturers in the world in future,” he added.

Panke told the meeting that, in the 2003 business year, the group achieved new sales records with all its brands (BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce) and maintained its high level of profitability despite significant up-front expenditure on new models.

He added that BMW has also made a good start in the current business year with customer deliveries, revenues and earnings in the first quarter all exceeding the corresponding figures for the previous year.

This upward trend in the first three months continued in April, deliveries of 101,380 cars to customers outperforming the previous year’s figure by 10.4% (2003: 91,843). This was an increase in deliveries to the end of April of 5.1% to 371,376 units (2003: 353,431).

Panke said : “The BMW group remains in the offensive. We see further potentials for new vehicle concepts and for winning over new markets.”

The group set a new record of 1,104,916 cars delivered to customers in the 2003 financial year, 4.5% above the previous year’s record (2002: 1,057,344).

But group revenues for 2003, at €41,525 million, were 2.1% lower than in the previous year as a result of the low US dollar against the euro (2002: €42,411 million). Adjusted for exchange rate fluctuation, the group achieved an increase in revenue of 4.2%. At €3,205 million, profit from ordinary activities almost reached the previous record figure achieved in 2002 (-2.8% compared with 2002’s €3,297 million).

Net profit of the BMW group was €1,947 million, down 3.6% on the previous year (2002: €2,020 million).

At the end of 2003, the group had a worldwide workforce of 104,342, 2.9% more than at the end of 2002. Three-quarters are based in Germany, where the workforce increased to 78,569 (+3.2% / 2002: 76,143).

BMW plans to pay a dividend of up to €0.60 per share, 11 12% higher than in the previous year.

Joachim Milberg has replaced Volker Doppelfeld as chairman of BMW’s supervisory board.