Daimler announces return to profit, upgrades 2010 profit forecast

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German auto giant Daimler said on Monday that it returned to profit in the first quarter with operating earnings of 1.2 billion euros (1.62 billion dollars) on sales of 21.2 billion euros.

The company, which suffered an operating loss of 1.4 billion euros in the same period of 2009, also raised its 2010 forecast for Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) to 3.7 billion euros from 3.0 billion euros.

Monday's figures were provisional and the final data will be published on April 27.

Last week, the company said it expected sales to accelerate twice as fast as the global car market this year after a punishing 2009.

"Our sales objective is of course ambitious but realistic: we want to grow twice as fast as the global automobile market," chief executive Dieter Zetsche told the annual Daimler shareholders' meeting in Berlin.

He said the company was operating on the assumption that worldwide car sales would rise three to four percent while its own turnover would increase six to eight percent.

The manufacturer of luxury Mercedes cars and the ultra-compact Smart said group turnover would rise this year but remain weaker than in 2008, before the financial crisis devastated the global auto industry.

Daimler saw a 10.1 percent drop in 2009 sales, with a net loss of 2.6 billion euros, despite an improvement in the second half of the year.

© 2010 AFP

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