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FRANKFURT, March 9 (Reuters) - German carmaker BMW reported an 8 percent rise in 2016 net profit as demand for high-margin sports utility vehicles helped the carmaker reach a new sales record last year.
But the manufacturer of BMW and Mini cars saw its operating margin in its automotive division fall to 8.9 percent from 9.2 percent a year earlier, sending its shares lower.
BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger said the company aimed to continue increasing sales and maintain its profitability despite the need for heavy investment spending in new technologies to help cut pollution and advance autonomous driving.
"From 2019 onwards, we will be firmly embedding all-electric, battery-powered mobility in our core brands," Krueger said in a statement on Thursday.
Mercedes-Benz sold 2.08 million cars last year, while BMW sold 2.36 million cars.
The luxury carmaker said on Thursday it would recommend a dividend of 3.50 euros per share of common stock, up from 3.22 euros last year, and above the 3.38 euros per common share expected by analysts in a poll. (Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Harro ten Wolde)