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Daimler Keeps Forecast Unchanged Despite Q1 Unit Sales Growth

4/4/2012 4:37 AM ET

German automaker Daimler AG (DDAIF.PK) on Wednesday backed its earnings and revenue forecast for fiscal year 2012 after reporting strong vehicle sales for the first quarter.

Noting that the company has made an excellent start to the year, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said the company is "on the way to its best form, but is not there yet. We are confident we can do more, and that also applies to our share price."

For the full year, the company continues to project that EBIT from the ongoing business would be the high level of the prior year's 9 billion euros and total unit sales would increase again significantly driving further revenue growth.

While announcing a record profit for its fourth quarter and fiscal 2011 in early February on the strength of improved sales volumes, Zetsche had said the company expects fiscal year 2012 EBIT from ongoing business 'in the magnitude' of last year.

Daimler, which celebrated its 125th anniversary, has sold 2.1 million vehicles in its jubilee year of 2011, generating total revenue of 106.5 billion euros and net profit of 6 billion euros.

The company today said its first-quarter vehicles sales increased from last year, with 12 percent rise in unit sales of Mercedes-Benz Cars to more than 340,000 units and 20 percent increase in Daimler Trucks sales to about 107,000 vehicles.

In the U.S., Mercedes-Benz car sales in March were lower than that of rival BMW's (BAMXY.PK, BAMXF.PK,BMW.L), as reported on Tuesday.

BMW's North American chief Ludwig Willisch noted that "the year is still young and BMW alone will introduce in 2012 more new and refreshed models in the U.S. than it ever has before in any one year making us strongly optimistic about the months ahead."

The Mercedes-Benz Vans division's unit sales increased in North America and Latin America, but declined in Europe. Sales of Daimler Buses declined in the first quarter.

Looking ahead, Zetsche affirmed the higher unit sales forecast for Mercedes-Benz Cars amid the expected annual growth of 4 percent in the global car markets. "At Mercedes, we're on a roll, and we want to beat that," he added. Daimler Trucks also anticipates further growth in unit sales in 2012.

The company expects that the planned investment of 10.9 billion euros in research and development and 10.6 billion euros in property, plant and equipment in 2012 and 2013 alone would help it to boost its growth strategy.

Zetsche also affirmed Daimler's medium-term targets for unit sales and earnings. In the year 2015, the company projects to sell more than 1.6 million Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, over half a million trucks, more than 400,000 vans and approximately 42,000 buses.

Daimler shares are currently trading at 44.99 euros, down 0.78 euros or 1.70 percent on Frankfurt's Xetra.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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