BERLIN (Reuters) -- Daimler's third-quarter operating profit jumped by almost a third as strong demand in Europe and China coupled with new product launches spurred its vehicle sales to a record.
Adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) increased to 3.66 billion euros ($4.15 billion), Daimler said in a statement today.
Daimler stuck to its guidance for a significant gain in deliveries, revenue and EBIT, benefiting from new models such as the redesigned Mercedes A-class compact as well as the GLC and GLE SUVs, which all launched in September.
Mercedes is poised to overtake Audi this year as the world’s second-biggest luxury-car maker and aims to close the gap to segment leader BMW by the end of the decade. Mercedes eclipsed Audi by 28,474 in nine-month vehicle sales.
Daimler's third-quarter return on sales from ongoing business at Mercedes-Benz Cars division rose to 10.5 percent from 8.5 percent a year earlier, exceeding its goal.
The company said third-quarter sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars increased by 18 percent to 508,400, the best quarterly result to date. Western Europe, where sales grew 19 percent, was the main growth driver, with volume also increasing by 5 percent in the U.S. and 39 percent in China.
Daimler is "on a really good path," said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. "Looking ahead into next year, the cars division will continue to perform strongly, with the new E class starting sales."
Mercedes's sales momentum in China continued to outshine both BMW and Audi, with Mercedes deliveries soaring 31 percent this year through September despite a stock market rout and cooling economic growth that combined to leave Chinese customers wary of buying new cars. Mercedes’s boom in China, where it has lagged competitors in the past, compares with a 2 percent gain for BMW and nearly level sales for Audi.
Daimler did moderate its expectations for the global auto market because of China, however, saying it now expects demand there to rise only slightly. Higher industrywide sales in North America and Europe will help keep worldwide car-buying at about the same level as last year, the company said.
At the Daimler Trucks division, hurt by a slowdown in Brazil, the company said it expects sales to rise only slightly this year after previously guiding for a significant gain.
Automotive News Europe and Bloomberg contributed to this report