Daimler profit rises on one-off gain

A one-off gain from the sale of an investment helped boost German automaker Daimler's net profit in the fourth quarter of 2012, offsetting the impact of higher costs.

The company, based in Stuttgart, said on Thursday that net profit was 2.3 billion ($A3.03 billion), up from 1.79 billion euros in the same quarter last year, thanks to the sale of a 7.5 per cent stake in European defence company EADS.

That sale, which reaped a 709 million euro gain, masked a two per cent fall in Daimler's operating profit in the period, to 8.6 billion euros from 8.8 billion euros in 2011 as the company invested heavily in new plants and models.

"The past financial year was overall a strong year for Daimler with some great achievements, but also with clear potential for improvement," said CEO Dieter Zetzche.

"Notwithstanding our success and the numerous pioneering investments in 2012, it is a fact that we did not reach our own targets for earnings and profitability."

Looking ahead, Daimler said major markets will remain week in the first half of 2013, but that with the introduction of new models and as efficiency measures start to pay dividends, "earnings are expected to improve in the second half of 2013 compared with the level of the first half".

Operating profit from ongoing business fell to 8.1 billion euros in 2012 from nine billion euros in 2011, whereas the company had expected it to remain flat.

Now, Daimler said it is predicting that operating profit from ongoing business for 2013 should reach the level of 2012.

Daimler saw a four per cent increase in sales in 2012 to 2.2 million vehicles, up from 2.1 million in 2011.

Mercedes-Benz sales rose five per cent to 1.45 million vehicles from 1.38 million the year before, while Daimler Trucks saw a nine per cent increase to 462,000 vehicles from 426,000 in 2011.

But Mercedes-Benz Vans posted a four per cent drop to 252,000 vehicles and the Daimler Buses division dropped 19 per cent to 32,000 vehicles.

AP rs

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