Daimler bounces back to profit in 2010

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German luxury car maker Daimler said Wednesday it returned to profit in 2010, overturning massive 2009 losses thanks to a rebound in major markets and efforts to make operations more efficient.

Daimler made a net profit of 4.7 billion euros ($6.3 billion) in 2010, more than reversing a 2009 loss of 2.6 billion euros.

The group turned a 2009 fourth quarter loss of 352 million euros into a 1.1 billion euro profit in the last three months of 2010 and will propose a dividend of 1.85 euros per share, a statement said.

Daimler did not pay a dividend in 2009.

It also benefitted last year from special items that included the sale of a stake in Tata Motors of India which added 265 million euros to the bottom line.

Income "connected with the settlement of a legal dispute" contributed another 218 million euros, the statement said.

The group, which owns the Mercedes-Benz brand and is also the world's biggest maker of heavy trucks, said core earnings soared to 7.27 billion euros from an operating loss of 1.5 billion euros a year earlier.

"Daimler managed an excellent comeback last year," chairman Dieter Zetsche said in the statement.

"Our goal now is to maintain the level we have reached over the long term and to further improve it wherever possible," he added.

Daimler said it expected core earnings this year "to surpass the level of 2010 significantly."

The group benefitted from a recovery of all its major markets last year as well as from a programme to increase production efficiency.

It sold 1.9 million vehicles with group revenue up 24 percent to 97.8 billion euros. When adjusted for effects from foreign exchange, the increase was 19 percent, it said.

Daimler added a few thousand people to its workforce meanwhile, which totaled 260,100 as of December 31.

They are to receive a special bonus of 3,150 euros as a result of the group's strong performance.

© 2011 AFP

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