FRANKFURT - The world's fifth-biggest carmaker DaimlerChrysler said on Tuesday its core profits more than doubled in the fourth quarter but the figure came in below analysts' expectations.
The German-American group posted an adjusted operating profit of 1.173 billion euros ($1.277 billion) for the fourth quarter, below a Reuters poll of 18 analysts which had given an average forecast of 1.394 billion euros, sending the company's shares lower.
The maker of cars, trucks and buses also posted an adjusted operating profit of 5.8 billion euros for 2002, above its latest target of more than 5 billion euros. One-off effects include restructuring charges at Chrysler and the trucks unit. A Reuters poll of 20 analysts had given an average forecast of 6.216 billion euros for the group's full-year adjusted operating profit.
The company, reaping the rewards of deep restructuring measures at U.S. arm Chrysler, posted fourth-quarter revenues of 37.001 billion euros and net profit of 721 million euros.
The company gave no outlook. Two years ago, DaimlerChrysler set a group adjusted operating profit target of 8.5 billion euros to 9.5 billion euros for 2003 but last year said it may achieve its goals late due to a weak economic climate.
Most automakers expect fierce pricing competition this year and weak demand for new cars due to tough economic conditions, especially in the event of a prolonged war against Iraq.
DaimlerChrysler said last month its pension costs would rise by 700 million euros in 2003 due to recent stock market falls.
DaimlerChrysler is the first European carmaker to report earnings, but General Motors and Ford Motor Co. posted slightly better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings last month, helped by cost cuts and incentive-supported demand.