BERLIN — BMW (IW 1000/36) said Thursday that 2012 had been the best year in the company's history and forecast further sales growth this year.

Group profit last year increased 4.4% compared to 2011, to 5.1 billion euros (US $6.6 billion), on 11.7% higher revenues to 76.8 billion euros, the company, which also produces the Mini and Rolls-Royce, said.

"The past year has been the most successful year in BMW group’s corporate history with new high levels achieved for sales volume, revenues and group earnings," chairman Norbert Reithofer said in a written statement.

"We have achieved or surpassed all of our targets for 2012 in the face of very challenging market conditions," he added.

The company had announced in January that it achieved a new sales record in 2012 and in its annual results statement Thursday confirmed it sold 1.84 million vehicles last year, an increase of 10.6% over 2011.

"We are again targeting further sales volume growth worldwide in 2013 and hence a new record level for deliveries," Reithofer said.

"However economic conditions are likely to remain challenging in many markets," he warned.

On the back of its results, BMW group said it would propose increasing the dividend to 2.50 euros per share from 2.30 euros for 2011.

However investors seemed unimpressed, with BMW shares on the Frankfurt stock exchange down 1.12% to 70.47 euros at 1058 GMT.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013