Daimler Back in Black

Company expects to see growth at double the rate of the overall global market, which it forecasts will expand by 3%-4% in 2010

Daimler said on April 27 it returned to profit in the first quarter, raising its full-year forecast on the back of strong Mercedes sales.

Net profit in the first was 612 million euros (US$817 million), up from a loss of 1.3 billion euros in the year-earlier period, while operating income improved to a profit of 1.2 billion euros from a loss of 1.4 billion euros.

"This very good result for the first quarter shows that we did our homework in the crisis and are now firmly on track for success once again," chief executive Dieter Zetsche said.

It said that almost all its divisions contributed, in particularly its Mercedes-Benz Cars unit, which notched up an operating profit of 806 million euros, up from a loss of 1.1 billion euros in the year-earlier period.

Daimler Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans and the firm's financial services arm were also back in the black at operating level, while its buses division, the only unit in profit in the first quarter of 2009, saw earnings slide.

Daimler raised its forecast for 2010 operating profit to more than four billion euros from an earlier projection of 2.3 billion euros, compared to an operating loss of 1.5 billion euros recorded in 2009.

Revenues, Daimler said, are forecast to increase but will still be "significantly" below the level of 2008, before the financial crisis sent the world economy into a tailspin, the auto industry with it.

It also said it expects unit sales to increase "significantly" from 1.6 million vehicles in 2009.

The key factors behind its forecast were an ongoing market revival, an improving economic environment and the "market success" of its products, it said.

It expects to profit from the full availability of new Mercedes E-Class models, new generations of the R-Class and the CL-Class and more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly versions of existing models, it said.

It said that even with a continuation of "difficult conditions," it expected to notch up growth at double the rate of the overall global market, which it forecasts will expand by 3%-4% in 2010.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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