Carmaker increases targets for minibuses and own-brand cars Brilliance China Automotive Holdings, a partner of German carmaker BMW, narrowed its first-half loss on higher sales of minibuses and its Zhonghua sedans. The loss for the first six months dropped to 113.6 million yuan or 3.097 fen a share from 299.5 million yuan or 8.16 fen a year earlier. Sales rose 55.5 per cent to 4.35 billion yuan. Minibus sales gained 27.5 per cent to 37,571 units from 29,471 a year earlier while sales of Zhonghua sedans surged more than fourfold to 19,398 units from 4,598 units. The company recorded a 73.3 million yuan impairment loss on goodwill in the minibus business after a components unit made a first-half loss of four million yuan. Sales of BMW sedans also gained, jumping 35.4 per cent to 9,822 units from 7,253 units a year earlier. Net profit contributed by BMW Brilliance Automotive, in which Brilliance China indirectly owns 49 per cent, amounted to 89 million yuan from a net loss of 56.6 million yuan. President Qi Yumin said the company aims to sell 40,000 Zhonghua sedans and 62,000 minibuses by the end of the year. 'We tend to lift sales instead of gross profit at the moment,'' Mr Qi said. 'We are going to enlarge the market share of Zhonghua sedans from 0.4 per cent to 3.4 per cent in 2008 while the market share of minibuses will be enlarged from 42 per cent to 50 per cent.' Zhongua sedans continued to lose money in the first half, at 303 million yuan, compared with 332 million yuan previously. Brilliance China raised its overall 2006 sales target to 135,000 units from 120,000 units, including Junjie compact cars. The company started selling Junjie compacts in March and had sold 8,332 units by the end of June. The model accounted for about 20 per cent of the company's overall auto units sold in the first half. Overall gross profit margin fell to 7.3 per cent from 10.1 per cent amid continued price competition in the mainland's vehicle industry, the company said. Gross profit rose to 316 million yuan from 283 million yuan a year earlier. Brilliance China recorded a loss on the change in fair value of its zero coupon convertible bonds due in 2011 to the amount of 40.7 million yuan. This raised the company's debt-to-equity ratio to 1.72 times in the first half from 1.29 times. The shares closed unchanged at HK$1.26 before the results were released.