Ugh, I can't believe anyone thinks that breaking even is the goal of manufacturers.
I'll put this simply. GreenMedic, if you think that it would be okay for a manufacturer to simply break even -- and that anything beyond that is simply "bragging rights" -- you're wrong, and clearly do not understand how industry works, particularly in growing fields. Unless the situation is extraordinary, shareholders will call for the heads of the executives rather quickly under those conditions.
Shareholders expect growth, and you do not grow without profits. To what extent they expect growth is dependant on the place, time, and economic circumstances, but that's always the expectation.
No reasonable person thinks GM is "beating" BMW right now. BMW is still a profitable enterprise, GM is hemmorhaging cash. And yes, they absolutely are compared by economic analysts, because economic analysts consider them to be in the same market. In other words, the example you've just given -- another car analogy -- does nothing but disprove you, since the companies you've mentioned are, in fact, frequently compared.