FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German car and truck maker Daimler reported second-quarter operating profit that beat expectations thanks to strong demand for its Mercedes-Benz cars.

Second-quarter earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose 23 percent to 2.58 billion euros ($3.73 billion), which beat an average estimate of 2.49 billion euros in a Reuters poll.

The company also said it now expects 2011 EBIT to very significantly exceed the year-earlier level.

Analysts on average see 2011 group EBIT at 9.15 billion euros, up almost 26 percent from a year earlier.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan) ($1=.6909 Euro)