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EU:BMW not buying Ford's Aston Martin, CEO says

BMW not buying Ford's Aston Martin, CEO says

Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany — Luxury automaker BMW AG said today that its third-quarter profit slipped 0.7$%, missing market expectations, because it had to pay higher taxes and retooled its lineup of car models.

However, the company said it was optimistic about achieving its goal of a pretax
profit of 4 billion euros ($5.1 billion) in 2006, along with record sales.

BMW Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer said the German automaker has no interest in buying the iconic Aston Martin brand. Ford Motor Co. has put up for sale the famed English maker of sleek and expensive cars.

“We are a focused company and we want to stay a focused company. We’re not interested,” he said during a conference call with analysts.

Munich-based BMW earned 452 million euros ($577 million) in the July-September period, down from 455 million euros a year earlier. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a profit of 470 million euros ($600 million).

Sales fell 1.4 percent to 11.56 billion euros ($14.75 billion) from 11.72 billion euros.
The company’s pretax profit was up 9.4 percent to 720 million euros ($918.9 million) from 658 million euros, helped in part by a one-time gain from a settlement on an exchangeable bond on shares in Rolls-Royce PLC.

“We are right on track for achieving a record pretax profit of 4 billion euros ($5.1 billion) as well as a new record in retail volume for the current year,” Reithofer said in a statement.

“BMW’s third-quarter earnings were in line at the operating level, with a modest improvement in operating profit and strong margins, but a weaker automotive result than expected,” said Stephen Cheetham, a European autos senior research analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. in London.

He added that sales in the quarter were down because of some weakening demand for the company’s 6- and 7-series lineup, along with a dip in the X5, its
sport-utility vehicle.

“Mini sales were also down 10.5 percent, again because of the transition to the new model,” Cheetham said. “Group unit sales are up 3.3 percent year-to-date, but the company still has to prove it can re-ignite the strong sales growth seen earlier this year.”

Third-quarter deliveries were down 5.5 percent on the year at 323,064 cars, but year-to-date deliveries are still up 3.3 percent compared with the same period in 2005, at 1,021,534 cars.

The company is preparing to launch a revamped version of its high-margin X5 SUV and several derivatives of other model lines. The automaker, which has not specified a sales target for this year, hopes to sell 1.4 million cars worldwide in 2007 and 1.6 million cars by 2010.

Ford, which is struggling, announced in August that it would sell Aston Martin, the icon of luxury sports cars made famous in James Bond movies, as part of its restructuring.

Aston Martin makes about 5,000 cars a year, which cost upward of $100,000 apiece. The company has its headquarters, research and production facilities in Gaydon, England.

Ford Motor Co. bought a controlling stake in Aston Martin in 1987 and acquired full ownership in 1994.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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