Coronavirus deals harsh blow to BMW in Q1 2020

Agence France-Presse
Coronavirus deals harsh blow to BMW in Q1 2020
BMW sells 21% fewer cars year-on-year at 477,000 in the 1st quarter of 2020

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany – German high-end carmaker BMW reported on Wednesday, May 6, a net profit down only slightly on 2019 levels in the 1st quarter as the novel coronavirus slashed sales, but the comparison was distorted by a massive charge that hit the manufacturer last year.

In January-March, BMW sold 21% fewer cars year-on-year at 477,000, even as its bottom line fell just 2.4%, to 574 million euros ($622 million).

Now, “we are gradually ramping up our production again according to demand in each market,” chief executive Oliver Zipse said, adding that “liquidity has absolute priority in this situation.”

The Munich-based group has slashed the amount it plans to invest over the course of 2020 from almost 6 billion to “less than 4 billion” euros, Zipse added.

“In view of the current situation, we will either put certain projects on hold or subject them to further review,” the BMW chief said.

Late Tuesday, May 5, the carmaker cut its financial forecasts faced with a coronavirus crisis that has persisted for longer than it first hoped.

It expects unit sales to be “significantly down” this year compared with 2019, prompting earnings to “deteriorate, particularly in the 1st half.”

And profit margins in the group’s automotive segment will likely fall to a range between 0% and 3%, rather than between 2% and 4% as previously expected.

“Uncertainty surrounding the global spread of [the] coronavirus and its consequences makes it difficult to accurately forecast,” BMW said, sticking to its expectations of pre-tax profit “signficantly below” 2019 levels.

Key European markets have seen car sales almost wiped out as lockdown measures to limit the coronavirus’ spread brought large parts of daily life to a halt.

In April, new car registrations collapsed by 97% in Britain and Italy and 89% in France.

“The highest negative impact is expected in the 2nd quarter of 2020,” BMW said Tuesday. –

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