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Daimler soars to $6.3 billion profit in 2010

BERLIN (AP) — Daimler AG earned 1.05 billion ($1.4 billion) in the fourth quarter as revenue rose by nearly a quarter — capping a year in which a recovering global market and strong Chinese and U.S. demand helped the German car maker rocket back into the black.

The October-December earnings reported Wednesday contrasted with a loss of 348 million a year earlier — but they also came in short of analysts’ forecasts, causing Daimler’s shares to slide 2.9 percent to 54.35 in Frankfurt trading.

Earnings per share, which were expected to reach 1.25, came in at 0.99.

The maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks saw revenues rise 24 percent to 26.4 billion from 21.32 billion, slightly above expectations.

Full-year net earnings rebounded to a 4.5 billion profit from a 2009 loss of 2.64 billion, on revenues that also rose 24 percent to 97.8 billion from 78.9 billion.

Earnings before interest and taxes totaled 1.56 billion for the quarter — an increase of nearly 250 percent — and 7.27 billion for the full year, compared with a loss of 1.51 billion in 2009.

The company said it plans a dividend of 1.85 per share this year after foregoing a dividend payment for 2009.

“Daimler managed an excellent comeback last year,” CEO Dieter Zetsche said.

“Our goal now is to maintain the level we have reached over the long term and to further improve it wherever possible,” he added. We have the right products, technologies and strategies to do so.”

Daimler expects revenue to grow at “a more moderate rate” this year and EBIT, or pre-tax earnings, to come in “significantly in excess” of the 2010 level.

The company said it expects high spending this year on new products and technologies and to penetrate new markets, as well as rising prices for oil and raw materials in the wake of the global economic upturn.

It said exchange-rate volatility likely will remain high, but the company already has largely hedged the resulting risks for this year.

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