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BMW Says Car Sales to rise Above Last Year

Automaker BMW said Wednesday that its pretax profit this year was set to rise above the 4.12 billion euros it posted in 2006 on the sentiment that its car sales would also rise.

Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer said the company planned "to beat the record pretax profit achieved in 2006."

Last week BMW reported a 26% rise in 2006 pretax profit from 3.29 billion euros in 2005 to 4.12 billion euros ($5.45 billion).

The company also reported a 28% gain in net profit to 2.87 billion euros ($3.79 billion) thanks to a one-time gain from the sale of a stake in British aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce PLC.

Reithofer said that the rising euro and higher costs for the raw material it uses to make cars would "impact business performance for the current year, albeit to a lesser degree in the previous year."

He did not cite a specific forecast but in 2006, those issues hurt earnings by approximately 844 million euros ($1.12 billion).

He said the company expects to report higher sales through the rest of 2007 in the upper single-digit percentage range.

"We intend to sell more than 1.4 million vehicles," he said. "This year, we expect a moderate start, to be followed by strong increases mainly in the second half of the year."

BMW has several new models, including the 3-Series convertible, a retooled X5 and new versions of its 5- and 1-Series models.

Shares of BMW fell 1.6% to $54.33 in overall lower Frankfurt trading.

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