BMW expects record sales volumes for all three of its brands this year after 2007 revenues rose by 4.3 percent to a record 56.02 billion euros (£41.5 billion), the world's leading premium carmaker said yesterday.

Shares in the German company, which builds Minis and Rolls-Royces in Britain and which has a major engine plant at Hams Hall near Birmingham, bucked the sector trend, rising 2.4 per cent at 38.33 euros versus a 1.6 per cent drop in the DJ Stoxx European autos index.

"We expect a new record sales volume figure in 2008, with stronger growth in the first half of the year and more moderate growth in the second," chief executive Norbert Reithofer said yesterday.

He emphasised that sales growth and profitability are "both of paramount importance" to the group's future - a signal to investors concerned that it is not doing enough to stem a chronic slide in its margins.

Mr Reithofer reaffirmed the full-year 2007 earnings target for higher pretax profit excluding an exceptional gain in 2006 from the settlement on a Rolls-Royce convertible bond.

Turnover at BMW's core Automobiles division rose faster than vehicle sales last year, increasing by 12.7 per cent to 53.82 billion euros (£40 billion) - a gross figure that includes revenue booked twice within different parts of the group and later eliminated.

Financial Services posted 25.8 per cent higher sales at 13.94 billion euros (£103 billion).

Capital expenditure for property, plant and equipment as well as other intangible assets rose by 5.7 per cent to 2.93 billion euros (£2.2 billion) as BMW expanded its production network.

Earlier this month, the company said unit sales rose by 9.2 per cent in 2007 to 1.50 million vehicles.

The figures were published yesterday ahead of BMW's full year financial results statement in March.

Separately, Honda reported a stronger-than-expected 38 per cent rise in quarterly profit, helped by sharp growth in car sales around the world, and lifted its annual earnings forecasts as it reined in spending.

Japan's second-biggest carmaker and the world's top motorcycle maker raised its profit forecasts by between five and eight per cent above consensus market projections despite lowering its revenue outlook as the US slowdown hit bike and power product sales.

Honda said it now expects operating profit to climb to 920 billion yen (£4.3 billion) ($8.6 billion) for the year ending March 31, up from an earlier estimate of 880 billion yen (£4.1 billion).

That beats a consensus estimate of 900 billion yen (£4.2 billion) from 18 brokerages and is eight per cent higher than its year-earlier result.

Analysts are upbeat on Honda's growth prospects as it adds production capacity around the world - from the emerging regions of Brazil and Thailand to the mature US and Japanese markets - backed by healthy demand for its fuel-efficient cars.

The group told The Birmingham Post its plant at Swindon, which builds Civics and C-RVs for Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa, was reaching its capacity of 250,000 vehicles a year.

"Automakers such as Honda that can convince investors they can comfortably make up for a fall in North American demand with sales in the Middle East, South America, Asia, Europe and Russia are winners," said Fujio Ando, senior managing director at Chibagin Asset Management.

Honda lowered its revenue projections by 1.2 per cent to 12.15 trillion yen (£57 billion) as it cut its global sales volume target by 35,000 cars.

Executive vice president Koichi Kondo said the US subprime loan fallout had not hurt Honda's car sales so far but it was hitting demand for motorcycles and power products, which include lawnmowers and boat engines.

Honda has a goal of selling at least 4.5 million cars in 2010, versus 3.76 million last year.