German carmaker Daimler AG on Tuesday reported a first quarter net profit of 612 million euros ($817 million), up from a loss of 1.3 billion euros 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 18.7 billion euros to 21.2 billion euros. 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 1.2 billion euros, 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 11.6 billion euros.
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 237 million euros 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 265 million euros.
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.
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