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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: Robust Results

May 13, 2024 12:27PM ● By Donna Walker

BMW Group Has Successful Start to 2024

In the first three months of the year, the BMW Group said it delivered around 83,000 all-electric vehicles from its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands and increased BEV sales by around 28 percent.


The BMW brand overall increased its sales by 2.5 percent.


At the same time, the EBIT margin (earnings before interest and taxes) in the Automotive segment of 8.8 percent was within the target range of 8-10 percent, according to the full-year guidance.


At 11.4 percent, the EBT margin at Group level was above the strategic target of >10 percent.


The company said that after the challenges of the corona pandemic and semiconductor availability it has consistently delivered quarter-by-quarter within its 8-10 percent strategic EBIT corridor since Q1 2022.


Officials said that has been achieved in parallel to its rapid ramp-up of electric mobility: Over the past two years, the BMW Group delivered more than 1.1 million electrified vehicles to customers.


More than 60 percent of those were purely electric BEV models. The BEV share continues to rise steadily, as planned, the officials said.


In the first quarter of 2023, the EBIT margin of Automotive segment was 12.1 percent.


The EBIT of previous year’s first quarter benefited from the lower purchase price level of 2022, as inventories with lower manufacturing costs were sold, company officials said.


The inflation-related increase in manufacturing costs impacted the profit and loss statement of BMW AG after the second quarter of 2023, the officials said. They said the higher cost level has carried through into Q1/2024.


“The past nine quarters underline BMW’s continuity and reliability: As planned, we are dynamically expanding the share of electric vehicles while maintaining our high level of profitability. Some call this transformation — for us, it is continuous progress,” said Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Oliver Zipse.


Zipse added, “We will remain on this course: We offer our customers the latest innovations and the latest technology — across all vehicle drivetrains. As a result, we continue to generate strong demand with strong products.”


With a total of 594,533 automobiles delivered to customers in the first three months, the company posted slight growth of 1.1 percent compared to the previous year.


Throughout the three-month period, the major automotive markets largely showed an upward trend based on catch-up purchases and increased sales in the mid-price volume segment.


The BMW brand sold 530,933 units in the first quarter – an increase of 2.5 percent year-on-year.


It achieved sales growth of 2.4 percent (84,475 units) in the USA and significant growth of 10.2 percent in Europe with 188,863 units delivered.


In China, the volume segment developed dynamically in lower price ranges, while the premium segment declined slightly. The BMW brand sold 182,998 vehicles, in line with segment development (2023: 190,774 units/-4.1 percent).


In Germany, deliveries grew by 4.6 percent to 49,509 premium vehicles.


The BMW brand’s fully electric vehicles saw particularly strong growth of 40.6 percent.


A total of 122,582 BMW Group electrified vehicles, BEVs and PHEVs, were delivered to customers, which represents a sales share of almost 21 percent.

KION North America, Fox Robotics Announce Non-Exclusive Strategic Partnership

KION North America (KION NA), manufacturer of Linde Material Handling equipment, and Fox Robotics have entered into a non-exclusive partnership in which KION NA will manufacture and assemble FoxBot autonomous trailer loader/unloaders (ATLs) at its facilities in Summerville, South Carolina.


“We are at a pivotal moment in the logistics and transportation industry, where innovation is key to addressing some of the most pressing challenges we face,” said Jonathan Dawley, president and CEO at KION North America. 


Dawley added, “Specifically, in the realm of automated trailer loading and unloading, the last remaining piece of the end-to-end warehouse automation puzzle, Fox Robotics stands out by far as the dominant leader with the most robust AI/ML algorithms, tech stack, and deployed robot fleet we’ve ever seen.”


The FoxBot autonomous forklift is the first Class 1 electric, stand-up autonomous forklift designed for load/unload operations on warehouse loading docks.


Classified as an autonomous mobile robot (AMR), the FoxBot robotic forklift automates various operator tasks to improve workplace safety, increase productivity, and enhance employee satisfaction.


The company started selling ATLs commercially in 2019. Recently, Fox Robotics announced that its installed base of FoxBot ATLs has processed nearly 3 million pallet pulls to date.


Headquartered in Summerville, S.C., KION North America Corporation is a member of the KION Group, a leading manufacturer of industrial trucks.

American Coastal Insurance Corporation Announces Sale of Interboro Insurance Company to Forza Insurance Holdings, LLC

American Coastal Insurance Corporation (Nasdaq Ticker: ACIC), the insurance holding company of Interboro Insurance Company, a New York domiciled insurance company, said it has signed definitive agreements with Forza Insurance Holdings, LLC in which ACIC will sell and Forza will acquire 100 percent of the issued and outstanding stock of Interboro, which is licensed to write business in South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, and Washington, D.C.


Closing is subject to the approval of the New York Department of Financial Services.


Officials said the transaction completes the runoff of ACIC’s personal lines portfolio and allows ACIC to focus on its fast-growing commercial specialty property portfolio.


Concurrently, Interboro and SageSure entered into a program administrator agreement and a claims services agreement on May 9, 2024.


Under the terms of these service agreements, SageSure will provide policy administration, underwriting and claims administration services on behalf of Interboro.


“Interboro is a strong strategic fit for Forza and SageSure. We are incredibly pleased that we have found the right purchaser and program administrator to continue Interboro’s 100+ year journey. Peter N. Resnick, president of Interboro, and his talented team will complement the teams from Forza and SageSure and will be able to take Interboro to new heights,” said Brad Martz, president of American Coastal.


Once closed, the acquisition of Interboro will further diversify Forza’s portfolio of property insurance companies, which currently includes SureChoice Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange and Elevate Reciprocal Exchange, both with a geographic focus in the Gulf and Southeast, officials said.


Raymond James & Associates acted as exclusive financial advisor to American Coastal. The law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP served as legal counsel to American Coastal.


Howden Capital Markets & Advisory served as exclusive financial advisor to Forza. ACCEL Law Group served as legal counsel to Forza.

Middle School Students Participate in "Food Fight" Hosted by Celebrity Chef Aarti Sequeira

Students from Porter-Gaud, Charleston Collegiate School, and Charleston Day School recently gathered for a friendly (and tasty!) culinary competition, raising funds for local charities, thanks to a "Food Fight" program spearheaded by FLIK Independent School Dining (FISD), the on-site dining provider for all three schools and a leader in independent school dining, nutrition education, and hospitality services.


In partnership with FISD, each schools' team of representatives worked alongside their respective school chefs to learn culinary fundamentals including recipe creation, cooking terminology, and knife safety.


On May 8th, their training came together for a culinary competition, with creations tasted and hosted by chef and Food Network personality Aarti Sequeira and chef and owner of Charleston's da Toscano, Michael Toscano.


Part knowledge retention and trivia, part culinary competition, the teams of students worked together, putting their problem solving, leadership, and team building skills to the test to create Spiced Southern Corn Cakes with Slaw and Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice.


“Cooking involves creative problem-solving, math skills, troubleshooting kitchen mishaps, and adapting to ingredient substitutions. These are life skills we reinforce with our students every day. Plus, it's a fun way to learn and reinforce teamwork," said Judith Foley Arnstein, head of School, Charleston Day School.


In the end, Porter Gaud had the culinary chops to handle the heat of this food fight.


In addition to bragging rights, a donation of $1000 will be awarded to Ronald McDonald House in its name. FLIK Independent School Dining will also be matching the winning donation.

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