Daimler Posts 1Q Gain On Strong U.S., China Sales

German carmaker reported a first quarter net profit of $817 million, as rising sales of its luxury cars in the U.S. and China helped the company's turnaround.

BERLIN (AP) -- German carmaker Daimler AG on Tuesday reported a first quarter net profit of euro612 million ($817 million), up from a loss of euro1.3 billion a year earlier, as rising sales of its luxury cars in the U.S. and China helped the company's turnaround.

The positive first quarter result reflects a continuing upsurge in most business lines, with the Mercedes-Benz cars division posting particularly positive earnings, the company said.

"This very good result for the first quarter shows that we did our homework in the crisis and are now firmly on track for success once again," Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said in a statement.

The group's sales revenue increased from euro18.7 billion to euro21.2 billion. Daimler sold 402,700 cars and commercial vehicles worldwide in the first quarter of 2010 -- a 21 percent increase over last year, the company said.

Pretax profit stood at euro1.2 billion, in line with preliminary figures released last week.

Daimler said it expects unit sales in 2010 to increase significantly over last year's 1.6 million, with the group's earnings before interest and taxes to total more than euro4 billion for the whole year.

The Mercedes-Benz car division saw strong growth in the E-Class and S-Class segments with unit sales increasing 20 percent to 277,100 vehicles, from 231,200 in the first quarter 2010, the company said.

The division's revenue rose by 28 percent to euro11.6 billion.

Car sales in the first quarter increased above all in the U.S. and China, the company said. In the U.S. sales were up 28 percent at 56,145 vehicles while in China they more than doubled to 26,855 vehicles from 11,215.

Daimler had to write off euro237 million due to its stake in aerospace and defense company EADS NV, but the loss was offset by the sale of its stake in India's Tata Motors for euro265 million.

Daimler owns 22.5 percent of the voting rights and 15 percent of the equity in EADS, which has been troubled by delays and cost overruns on its A400M military transporter project -- and which led to the write-down.

Daimler employed 254,779 people worldwide at the end of the first quarter, down from 263,819 a year earlier.

The company's stock was 2.1 percent lower at euro38.64 in midday trading in Frankfurt.

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