STUTTGART -- Daimler's fourth-quarter operating profit rose 10 percent as new model launches helped the carmaker to raise sales and profit margins at its Mercedes-Benz division.
Operating profit, or earnings before interest and taxes from ongoing business, increased to 2.82 billion euros ($3.2 billion) from 2.56 billion euros a year earlier, Daimler said in a statement today.
The fourth-quarter operating margin at Mercedes-Benz Cars, which includes the Smart minicar brand, rose to 8.3 percent of revenue from 7.5 percent in the same period last year. On a full-year basis the return on sales was 8 percent, up from 6.2 percent in 2013. Daimler eventually wants to reach a 10 percent margin from carmaking.
Group sales advanced 11 percent to 35.7 billion euros.
CEO Dieter Zetsche said strategic decisions taken years ago are now starting to pay off. "This progress is the result of consistent hard work. Daimler is on an upward curve," he said in the statement.
Operating profit, or earnings before interest and taxes from ongoing business, will rise at least 10 percent in 2015, on pace with the fourth quarter, Zetsche told reporters today.
The global rollout of a new version of the C class, Mercedes' best-selling model, helped the car unit raise its operating margin in the fourth quarter. Robust sales of the brand's expanding compact car lineup and the flagship S-class sedan are also boosting sales.
Daimler says deliveries will rise significantly this year as it rolls out four new or revamped SUVs including the GLE Coupe, as well as a $1 million Pullman version of the S class, the CLA Shooting Brake, its fifth compact model, and the Porsche-challenging, $129,000 GT sports car.
"This year is the year of the SUV for us," Zetsche said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "SUVs are very much in demand, so it's perfect timing."