Daimler’s profit lower than expected as worry mounts over cheating claims
Frankfurt — Booming sales of new Mercedes-Benz cars pushed up quarterly operating profit at Germany’s Daimler 15%, slightly below consensus and overshadowed by allegations that German car makers were involved in anticompetitive behaviour.
Daimler’s group earnings before interest and tax (ebit) rose to €3.74bn in the second quarter, below the average forecast for €3.81bn in a Reuters poll.
Mercedes-Benz Cars sold 595,200 vehicles thanks to a 28% rise in demand in China. Margins improved to 10.2% from 6.4% in the year-earlier period, mainly thanks to sales of a new E-Class limousine.
The Stuttgart-based company lifted the outlook for its trucks and vans divisions, saying it now expected ebit to reach prior-year levels for both businesses.
But much focus is likely to be on an investigation by EU and German antitrust regulators into whether Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi held meetings to discuss suppliers, prices and standards to the disadvantage of foreign car makers.
German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday that German car makers colluded to fix the prices of diesel emissions treatment systems using industry committees. Companies found guilty of breaching EU cartel rules face fines of as much as 10% of their global revenue.
The supervisory boards of both Daimler and Volkswagen were due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the matter.
A person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday that Daimler raised the issue of collusion with cartel authorities first, a move that could earn it immunity.