[FRANKFURT] Daimler AG's first-quarter operating profit fell 9 per cent as launch costs for its new E-Class and currency headwinds weighed down results, even as sales in China, the world's largest car market, reached a new record.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) from ongoing business amounted to 2.68 billion euros (S$4.09 billion), from 2.93 billion in the year-earlier period and just above the 2.596 billion euros forecast in a Reuters poll.
The Mercedes-Benz Cars unit's return on sales reached 7.1 per cent, down from 9.2 per cent in the year-earlier period.
China is the world's biggest car market and Mercedes' sales there jumped 36.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, helping to lift total sales to 483,487 cars, topping BMW's 478,743. Ingolstadt-based rival Audi sold 455,750 vehicles in the first three months of this year.