Stuttgart — German car giant and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler reported on Wednesday that costly investments, fallout from the industry’s diesel scandal, and trade headwinds compressed its bottom line in 2018. Net profits at the Stuttgart-based group tumbled 29% to €7.6bn last year, short of predictions from analysts surveyed by FactSet. Unit sales grew 2% with more than 3.3-million vehicles sold, with similar growth in revenues, to €167.4bn. But operating, or underlying profit dropped 22% to €11.1bn, after the group downgraded its forecast twice last year. “2018 was a year of strong headwinds — with the ongoing diesel debate, the changeover to the new worldwide harmonised light-vehicle test procedure (WLTP) and the global trade dispute,” CEO Dieter Zetsche said in a statement. The group added that its profits were sapped by massive investments in developing new models and new technologies such as electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as by increased costs for raw materials and c...

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