FRANKFURT -- Daimler's first-quarter operating profit more than doubled as its expanded compact car range and demand from China and the United States boosted vehicle sales to record levels.
Group earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) from ongoing business rose to 2.07 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in the three months ended March, up from 949 million euros in the year-earlier period, Daimler said in a statement today.
Revenue increased by 13 percent to 29.5 billion euros despite unfavorable exchange rate developments, the company said.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said: "We made a good start to this year, as expected. As the year progresses, we will continue working systematically on our profitable growth path."
Profitability at Mercedes' car division has improved as a range of new models including the A- and B-class, GLA and CLA compacts as well as its flagship S class hit showrooms, more than doubling the division's return on sales from ongoing operations to 7 percent in the quarter, up from 3.3 percent in the year-earlier quarter. Daimler said it aimed to increase that to 10 percent in the medium term.
First-quarter deliveries rose 14 percent to a record 389,500 vehicles at the car division, which includes the Mercedes and Smart brands. Due to a more favorable model mix, the division's revenue increased 21 percent to 17 billion euros. EBIT was 1,183 million euros, up significantly from 460 million euros the year before. "The earnings development in the first quarter primarily reflects the ongoing growth in unit sales, especially in China and the United States," Daimler said.