Daimler sees flat 2013 profit after 10% fall last year
Fourth-quarter earnings up 6.7% on sale of stake in Airbus parent
Zetsche targets 2 billion euros in spending cuts at Mercedes.
FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Daimler forecast unchanged 2013 profit as spending for new models and a revamp of the automaker's operations eat into earnings.
Earnings before interest and taxes in 2012 from ongoing business fell 10 percent to 8.1 billion euros ($11 billion), the automaker said today. Profit on this basis in 2013 will be on the same level as last year, Daimler said.
"We did not reach our own targets for earnings and profitability" in 2012, CEO Dieter Zetsche said in a statement. "To ensure that our future growth is even more profitable, we have implemented detailed measures in all divisions."
Daimler said fourth-quarter Ebit rose 6.7 percent to 2.32 billion euros. Earnings were pushed up by a 709 million-euro gain from selling a 7.5 percent stake in EADS, the parent company of planemaker Airbus.
Zetsche announced an efficiency program in September dubbed "Fit for Leadership," with a goal to cut 2 billion euros from spending at Mercedes by the end of 2014.
The Daimler Trucks unit, the world's biggest maker of heavy vehicles, plans to cut 2,100 jobs, including 1,300 factory positions in North America.
Daimler is spending 10.8 billion euros in the next two year on research and development. Mercedes is rolling out a reworked version of its E-class sedan this year, adding the four-door CLA coupe to its compact-car line-up and selling the next generation of its high-end S-class in the second half.
Daimler had forecast last year's Ebit from ongoing business "in the magnitude" of 2011's level as recently as July before revising down the target to about 8 billion euros in October. The automaker said today it's proposing to keep the dividend at 2.20 euros per share.
In October, Daimler abandoned its 2013 target date for operating profit at the Mercedes carmaking operation to reach 10 percent of sales. It said at the time that the margin can be reached in 2014 at the earliest, at least four years later than originally planned.
Mercedes cars margin drops
Daimler forecast revenue gains in the next two years after posting an increase last year of 7.3 percent to 114.3 billion euros. Daimler plans to increase Mercedes car sales in 2013 and 2014. The Mercedes brand is targeting deliveries of 1.6 million cars and SUVs by 2015.
The passenger-car unit's 2012 operating margin sank to 7.1 percent of sales from 9 percent a year ago, Daimler said today.
Zetsche, whose contract may be extended for five years this month, has vowed by the end of the decade to retake the global luxury-car sales lead that Mercedes lost to BMW in 2005. His strategy to narrow the sales gap with BMW and Audi, which has ranked second in worldwide luxury-car sales since 2011, includes becoming more competitive in China. Mercedes' sales growth in the country lagged behind its two competitors last year, prompting the carmaker to combine sales organizations for imported and locally produced vehicles in the market into one entity.
Daimler plans to buy a 12 percent stake in Beijing Automotive Group Co.'s auto division, which is preparing for an initial public offering by the end of this year or early in 2014. Mercedes and BAIC, as the Chinese company is known, already operate factories together making the German brand's C- and E- class sedans and GLK sport-utility vehicle.Contact Automotive News