Daimler Q3 profit rises as Mercedes glistens

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FRANKFURT, Oct 25 (Reuters) Daimler AG generated third-quarter earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of 1.89 billion euros ( FRANKFURT, Oct 25 (Reuters) Daimler AG generated third-quarter earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of 1.89 billion euros ($2.70 billion), just ahead of market expectations, as profits continued to rise at its Mercedes-Benz Cars division.

The carmaker on Thursday tweaked its forecast for full-year EBIT to ''at least'' 8.5 billion euros from its previous language that profit would be around that figure.

Its shares rose 2.7 percent to 76.28 euros by 1057 GMT.

''The EBIT at Mercedes-Benz came in more than 25 percent better than expected by analysts. That is driving the share,'' said FrankfurtFinanz analyst Heino Ruland.

Third-quarter group sales rose 6 percent to 25.68 billion euros, and would have risen 9 percent at steady exchange rates.

Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected third-quarter group EBIT of 1.81 billion euros, sales of 24.22 billion and a net loss after charges related to the sale of a majority stake in U.S. arm Chrysler Group.

It swung to a quarterly net loss of 1.53 billion euros after writing off 2.22 billion euros of deferred tax assets in the wake of the deal.

EBIT at its flagship Mercedes-Benz Cars division rose 57 percent to 1.33 billion euros, easily ahead of the poll average, for a margin of 9.5 percent, keeping it on track to hit its target of a 10 percent return on sales by 2010 at the latest.

EBIT at its market-leading trucks business fell 15 percent to 480 million euros, also better than expected. It stuck to its forecast that EBIT at trucks would stay roughly flat this year despite sharp market downturns in the United States and Japan.

Daimler trades at nearly 13 times consensus 2008 earnings per share, according to Reuters Estimates, versus arch-rival BMW at just over 10 times.

REUTERS PBB DB2027 .70 billion), just ahead of market expectations, as profits continued to rise at its Mercedes-Benz Cars division.

The carmaker on Thursday tweaked its forecast for full-year EBIT to ''at least'' 8.5 billion euros from its previous language that profit would be around that figure.

Its shares rose 2.7 percent to 76.28 euros by 1057 GMT.

''The EBIT at Mercedes-Benz came in more than 25 percent better than expected by analysts. That is driving the share,'' said FrankfurtFinanz analyst Heino Ruland.

Third-quarter group sales rose 6 percent to 25.68 billion euros, and would have risen 9 percent at steady exchange rates.

Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected third-quarter group EBIT of 1.81 billion euros, sales of 24.22 billion and a net loss after charges related to the sale of a majority stake in U.S. arm Chrysler Group.

It swung to a quarterly net loss of 1.53 billion euros after writing off 2.22 billion euros of deferred tax assets in the wake of the deal.

EBIT at its flagship Mercedes-Benz Cars division rose 57 percent to 1.33 billion euros, easily ahead of the poll average, for a margin of 9.5 percent, keeping it on track to hit its target of a 10 percent return on sales by 2010 at the latest.

EBIT at its market-leading trucks business fell 15 percent to 480 million euros, also better than expected. It stuck to its forecast that EBIT at trucks would stay roughly flat this year despite sharp market downturns in the United States and Japan.

Daimler trades at nearly 13 times consensus 2008 earnings per share, according to Reuters Estimates, versus arch-rival BMW at just over 10 times.

REUTERS PBB DB2027

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