FRANKFURT - Daimler-Benz AG, which will merge with Chrysler Corp. later this month, reported a 17 percent increase in group sales to DM102.9 billion ($62.5 billion) in the first nine months of 1998.
Operating profit was almost DM1.75 billion in the third quarter, pushing earnings to DM5.51 billion for the full year.
Daimler did not report third quarter results last year. The nine-month profit already exceeds the full 1997 total of DM4.3 billion.
Group sales were DM35.2 billion in the third quarter.
Daimler-Benz said it was not worried about world economic problems in the fourth quarter of the year and expected 'a good result.' Daimler said it expected to sell a record 850,000-plus vehicles for the year. A total of 653,736 units have been sold already - 28 percent up on last year.
'Daimler-Benz is in excellent condition, just as our partner Chrysler is,' said Chairman Juergen Schrempp. 'We expect further positive earnings development for the merged company, DaimlerChrysler.'
Daimler-Benz reported 'slight losses' in Asia and Latin America in the first nine months, but said these had been more than offset by strong sales in western Europe and North America. Passenger car sales were up 56 percent in the USA and 28 percent in western Europe.
Passenger-car operating profit climbed by DM905 million in the third quarter to DM2.97 billion, driven by demand for M-class, A-class and CLK models.
Daimler's commercial vehicles division reported operating profits up DM550 million in the third quarter to DM1.4 billion.
Daimler-Benz chose to report quarterly profit figures for the first time to underline its commitment to more open financial disclosure after the Chrysler merger.
'I think they were very good numbers, right in line with expectations,' said Lothar Lubinetski, analyst at Enskilda Securities in London. 'They underline that Daimler-Benz is doing very well.'