This could be approached in different ways. For example, the market capitalization of BMW - still well controlled by the Quandt family - was less than the sum of its net cash and the book value of its banking business.

This suggested that the automotive business, in this case the best capitalized and most profitable of the sector, with margins worthy of Porsche - and an annual operating profit regularly between €4 and €5 billion, was worth less than zero.

Another way was to value the banking activity - whose profitability would make any European financial institution jealous - at twice the value of its equity, which gave about €40 per share.

Once the €40-€50 from the Chinese joint venture was added, all the rest of BMW came free. So the proposal was not lacking in allure.

Notwithstanding the somewhat overrated elegance of these napkin calculations, we were careful to point out that the group would remain primarily valued in relation to its ability to distribute dividends.

This distribution has increased - and the share price with it, for a dividend yield that exceeds 6% at current prices.

The manufacturer has just published its annual results. Consolidated sales reached an all-time high of €142 billion, compared to €111 billion last year and €77 billion ten years ago.

Operating profit is in line with last year, at €14 billion in 2022 compared to €13.5 billion in 2021. This margin compression is the result of a general increase in manufacturing costs, a direct consequence of an inflationary climate not yet fully reflected in prices.

Electric vehicles account for almost a quarter of sales, compared to one-twentieth five years ago. BMW has delivered 215,000 vehicles of this type in 2022: while it leads the other European manufacturers in this respect, it is worth noting that this is still six times less than the number of vehicles delivered by Tesla.

Be careful with the spectacular net result of €23.5 billion, compared to €15.5 billion last year: the difference is entirely due to an accounting adjustment following the consolidation of BMW Brilliance, the previous Chinese joint venture.

On a strategic level, and following the example of other heavyweights in German industry such as BASF, BMW is putting the emphasis on China - where the manufacturer already sells a third of its vehicles.

Whether this is a risk or an opportunity is up to each of us.