Mercedes helps Daimler to 57 pct Q4 profit rise

Associated Press + More

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German automaker Daimler AG delivered forecast-busting fourth quarter earnings on Thursday as its flagship Mercedes business enjoyed buoyant sales in China and the United States.

The Stuttgart-based company said its net profit in the fourth quarter rose 57 percent to euro1.78 billion ($2.36 billion), way up on market expectations for a more modest rise to euro1.30 billion. Revenue was also higher than anticipated, up 10 percent to euro29.06 billion, and against forecasts of euro27.70 billion.

A more detailed look at the figures shows that Daimler benefited from a strong performance of its Mercedes luxury brand, which saw sales jump in two key markets. They were up 42 percent in China and 44 percent in the United States.

Daimler's bus and van businesses also saw strong profit increases.

On a downbeat note, the company said the eurozone debt crisis would weigh on the European auto market, which it expects to remain flat. It said it was looking to Asian emerging markets, Japan and North America for stronger demand.

Overall, Daimler said earnings across all markets before interest and taxes from continuing businesses would equal this year's.

For the year as a whole, Daimler made a record profit of euro6.03 billion ($8 billion), up 29 percent from euro4.49 in 2010. Daimler's employees will get a piece of that, as the company declared profit-sharing bonuses of euro4,100 ($5,442) per eligible worker.

The company's shareholders will get around 40 percent of net profit, paid out through a proposed dividend of euro2.20 per share, up from euro1.85 per share last year.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.