E-Class sedan, SUVs boost earnings at Germany's Daimler

Markets Associated Press

German automaker Daimler AG said Friday that stronger sales of its technology-loaded Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and SUVs helped third-quarter earnings swell by 13 percent.

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The company said its net profit during the July to September period rose to 2.73 billion euros ($2.97 billion) from 2.42 billion in the same quarter a year ago. The increase came on a revenue rise of 4 percent to 38.6 billion euros.

CEO Dieter Zetsche said the results prove "one more time that we are pursuing the right strategy."

Zetsche said the company would use its momentum to press forward with its future EQ brand of electric vehicles. Zetsche introduced the first EQ concept vehicle at the Paris auto show in September, describing it as the company's answer to technological change that includes more electric vehicles as well as autonomous and assisted driving.

The Mercedes-Benz luxury car business, the mainstay of the company's profitability, saw a 12 percent increase in earnings before interest and taxes, to 23.3 billion euros. Favorable exchange rate developments boosted earnings there, in addition to stronger sales. Mercedes sold 20 percent more cars in China and had double-digit increases in the U.K., France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.

A key Mercedes earnings figure was the rich profit margin of 11.8 percent return on sales, up from 10.5 percent in the same period a year ago

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Daimler's overall profit breakdown showed that the Mercedes-Benz division is outperforming the trucks division, where sales fell sharply in Turkey and the Middle East. Truck sales collapsed from 4,500 to 1,700 in Turkey during the quarter, where a failed coup has led to political turmoil and uncertainty. Middle East sales fell to 3,300 from 9,700.