Germany’s Daimler AG (Ticker symbol DAI), parent of Daimler Trucks North America and Mercedes-Benz Vans USA, reported on July 26 a 15% jump in profit for the second quarter, largely on the strength of its global Mercedes-Benz luxury car business.
That performance was dimmed by recent news that Daimler is among the targets of a probe by the European Union into alleged collusion among automakers.
On July 22, per a report by The New York Times, European antitrust authorities stated they are investigating allegations that Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW colluded illegally to hold down the prices of crucial vehicle technology, including emissions equipment. The alleged acts of collusion began in the mid-1990s and continued until recently, according to a report by the German magazine Der Spiegel.
In addition, earlier this month Munich-based newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that Germany’s federal minister of transport Alexander Dobrindt is investigating whether the exhaust-gas treatment systems of certain diesel-powered cars and vans built by Daimler have been manipulated by illegal software that eliminates emission measurements taken during testing and on the road.
Back to Daimler’s financials: The OEM reported that Q2 earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) increased to 3.75 billion Euros ($4.4 billion) from 3.26 billion Euros ($3.8 billion) for the same period the year before.
The Mercedes-Benz Cars division posted a 70% leap in second-quarter EBIT, but in the meantime, profit dropped 13% for the Daimler Trucks business-- the company’s second-biggest earnings contributor, according to Bloomberg— and it dropped 11% for its commercial van operation.
From April through June, Daimler sold 822,500 cars and commercial vehicles worldwide (+8%), marking another record for unit sales. The company said contributions to the Group’s best-ever unit sales came from all automotive divisions, in particular the records set by Mercedes-Benz Cars (595,200 vehicles, +9%) and Mercedes-Benz Vans (103,400 vehicles, +4%) and the sales growth at Daimler Trucks (116,400 vehicles, +8%).
Daimler said group revenue hit their best-ever figure of €41.2 billion— or 7% higher than in the second quarter of last year. Adjusted for exchange-rate effects, revenue increased by 5%.
“We had an excellent second quarter,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “This strong core business is the best basis to exploit new business models around the CASE topics [CASE stands for the four strategic pillars of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive (Electric)], which Daimler is linking up intelligently.
“Our strategy is taking effect,” he continued. “We have set ourselves ambitious goals. And we are achieving them – in terms of unit sales and profitability. Step by step, we are optimizing efficiency throughout the Group. The transformation of Daimler is going ahead at full speed. And we have everything we need for it: the resources to invest and the scope to innovate.”
The company noted that earnings for the global Daimler Trucks division “reflect expenses for customer-service measures at Mercedes-Benz Trucks, and despite efficiency gains, did not match the earnings of the prior-year quarter.” Also, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses “achieved high levels of EBIT but lower than the amounts posted in the prior-year quarter.”
Daimler added that “following the cyclical downturn of the previous year for the truck market in the NAFTA region, demand can be expected to recover gradually as the year progresses.” Nonetheless, the OEM expects that for full-year 2017, sales of Class 6 to 8 trucks are “likely to be slightly lower than in 2016” and “a rather weaker development is anticipated in the segment of heavy-duty [Class 8] trucks.”