German luxury car maker BMW has reported a fall in quarterly profit as slowdown in the European auto sector weighed on the sales volume.
Earnings before interest and taxes in the first quarter of the year fell to €2.04bn ($2.69bn/ £1.73bn), a 4.5% drop from $2.13bn, a year ago. This compares to analysts' forecast of a decline of €1.82bn.
Sales for the quarter declined 4.1% to €17.5bn, but the company said it delivered a total 448,200 vehicles to customers worldwide in the January-March period, a rise of 5.3% against the same period a year ago.
However, BMW maintained its 2013 pre-tax profit forecast at the same level of the past year on the back of surging demand for its luxury vehicles in the US and China.
"This total market growth will be driven by the strong demand anticipated in the US, China and certain growth markets. In Europe, however, we expect to see a decline in new car registrations," said chief executive Norbert Reithofe.
Market players in the luxury car segment, such as BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler are struggling hard to maintain their market position as new car registrations in the eurozone plunged to 20-year low due to the economic slowdown in the region.
Major drop in sales was recorded in Europe's four biggest auto markets such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain, showed data from the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).
In March, Germany, the largest economy in Europe, saw a 17.1 percent decline in registrations. Among the brands, the Volkswagen group that has the largest market share in Europe reported a 9% decline in sales with 4.7 percent fall at BMW.
BMW is planning to roll out 25 new models by the end of 2014 and is going ahead with plans to invest €200m in a Brazil plant to manufacture 30,000 vehicles annually, beginning from next year, according to a Bloomberg report.