Cost controls, luxury sales help Daimler weather pandemic

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Car and truck maker Daimler AG increased its profits by 48% to 4.0 billion euros ($4.8 billion euros) in 2020 thanks to extensive cost-cutting and a sales recovery in the second half for its highly profitable Merecedes-Benz luxury cars and sport-utility vehicles.

The bottom line improved on 2.7 billion euros from 2019, even as top-line revenue fell 11% to 154.3 billion euros from 172.7 billion euros.

With net cash at year end of 17.9 billion euros, CEO Ola Kallenius said the company had the resources to develop the electric cars and digitalized products and services that are transforming the industry: “We proved our ability to generate substantial cash flow and to drive the ongoing transformation on our own – even under the adverse circumstances of a pandemic.”

The Stuttgart-based company said its outlook for this year was for profits and sales to be “significantly above” last year and proposed raising its dividend to 1.35 euros per share from 90 cents a share.

Daimler faced production shutdowns early in the year along with other automakers but benefitted from recovering demand for luxury cars after the first wave of the virus outbreak. The Mercedes-Benz luxury car division saw sales down only 1% in the last three months of the year. Luxury car sales were boosted by the rebound in China, the division’s largest market, where the company sold 12% more cars than in 2019.

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