Daimler AG’s third-quarter operating profit rose 31 percent as new sport utility vehicles pushed Mercedes-Benz sales higher than ever before.
Earnings before interest and taxes from ongoing business surged to 3.66 billion euros ($4.15 billion), the Stuttgart, Germany-based company said Thursday in a statement. That beat the 3.51 billion-euro average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 13 percent to 37.3 billion euros.
Mercedes is poised to overtake Audi this year as the world’s second-biggest luxury-car maker and aims to close the gap to segment leader BMW AG by the end of the decade. The Daimler unit is adding new models, and its deliveries soared 16 percent in September thanks in large part to its SUVs, including the new GLC, GLE coupe and compact GLA.
“They’re on a really good path,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. “Looking ahead into next year, the cars division will continue to perform strongly, with the new E-Class starting sales.”
Sales momentum in China continued to outshine both BMW and Audi, with Mercedes deliveries soaring 31 percent this year through September despite a stock market rout and cooling economic growth that combined to leave Chinese customers wary of buying new cars. Mercedes’s boom in China, where it has lagged competitors in the past, compares with a 2 percent gain for BMW and nearly level sales for Audi.
Daimler did moderate its expectations for the global auto market because of China, however, saying it now expects demand there to rise only slightly. Higher industrywide sales in North America and Europe will help keep worldwide car-buying at about the same level as last year, the company said.
Daimler confirmed that it expects a significant rise in revenue and profit this year. The Mercedes-Benz Cars unit returned 10.5 percent on sales, exceeding its goal.
At the Daimler Trucks division, hurt by a slowdown in Brazil, the company said it expects sales to rise only slightly this year.