Daimler Posts Slight Growth


Daimler AG on Thursday reported slightly higher net profit in the three months to the end of June, weakened by one-off items and lower earnings at the Mercedes-Benz car division, as the company continues to close in on rivals for the top spot in global premium brand automobiles.Earnings at the Stuttgart, Germany-based automotive group were hit by expenses for the recall of autos outfitted with faulty Takata airbags, a huge write-down of vehicles damaged or destroyed in the Tianjin, China harbor explosion, and around €400 million ($440.64 million) set aside to pay for fines in connection with record European Union fines against a truck makers’ price-fixing cartel.Daimler said net income in the second quarter rose 7% to €2.4 billion from €2.3 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 3% to €38.6 billion, boosted by gains in the Mercedes-Benz car division, buses and vans, and financial services. Revenue at Daimler Trucks, hit by weak emerging markets and a slowing U.S. truck market, fell 8% in the same period.Earnings before interest and taxes, which investors follow closely as an indication of underlying performance, fell 12% to €3.3 billion in the second quarter, hit by special charges. Adjusted for these one-off items, Daimler’s EBIT rose 6% to €3.97 billion.Expenses to revamp the popular E-Class sedan drove operating profit at the flagship Mercedes-Benz car division 37% lower to €1.4 billion in the second quarter, pushing return on sales down to 6.4% from 10.5% a year ago. Daimler expects earnings in the division to swing back during the second half of the year, as sales of the E-Class and its popular sport-utility vehicles drive sales higher.Mercedes reported record unit sales in the first half of the year, selling just over one million Mercedes-Benz brand cars by the end of June, an increase of 12%, overtaking rival BMW AG, which sold 986,557 BMW-brand vehicles, up 5.8%. Audi AG, which is owned by Volkswagen AG, took third place, selling 953,200 cars, an increase of 5.6%.Looking to the second half of the year, Daimler executives on a call with journalists said the failed coup in Turkey appeared to have little impact on the company’s business there.“We resumed production normally on Monday. We are monitoring the situation,” said Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche.Mr. Zetsche also said that at the moment he foresees no impact on the company’s European business from the decision last month by British voters to leave the European Union.Daimler reaffirmed its outlook for the full year, saying unit sales would “significantly increase,” driven by higher sales at Mercedes-Benz cars, boosted by the new E-Class and strong demand in China, and “significant growth” in sales at Mercedes-Benz Vans. Daimler’s trucks and buses divisions expect lower unit sales.The German auto maker expects a slight increase in revenue and operating profit in 2016.

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