Daimler AG (ticker symbol DAI) has posted record figures for unit sales and EBIT adjusted for special items in the second quarter of 2016, thus continuing along its successful path. In the second quarter of this year, worldwide unit sales increased to 761,300 passenger cars and commercial vehicles, thus surpassing the prior-year number by 7%. In the first half of the year, 1.445 million vehicles were delivered, which is 7% more than in the prior-year period. Group revenue increased by 3% to €38.6 billion in the second quarter. Adjusted for exchange-rate effects, revenue grew by 5%. Group EBIT for the second quarter amounted to €3,258 million (Q2 2015: €3,718 million). Group EBIT adjusted for special items reached its highest level so far of €3,973 million (Q2 2015: €3,764 million). Net profit rose to €2,452 million (Q2 2015: €2,372 million). Net profit attributable to the shareholders of Daimler AG increased to €2,429 million (Q2 2015: €2,269 million) and earnings per share rose to €2.27 (Q2 2015: €2.12).

“We are starting the second half of the year with record unit sales and will systematically continue along our path. The development of earnings once again shows that our company is extremely well positioned in all areas and that our long-term strategy is paying off on a sustained basis,” stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “We are ensuring Daimler’s long-term success with our global presence, our broad-based product portfolio across all divisions and our systematic development of mobility services. At the same time, we continue to set standards for safety, sustainability and technology leadership.”

EBIT in the second quarter of 2016 was primarily influenced by special items, as shown in the table on page 12. Earnings adjusted for these special items at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division were at the level of the prior-year period. Daimler Trucks was unable to reach its high earnings of the prior-year quarter. Earnings at the Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses divisions increased significantly, however, as a result of higher revenues. At Daimler Financial Services, earnings increased mainly due to the higher contract volume. Falling discount rates had a negative impact on earnings.

“We continue to grow profitably and are well on the way to achieving our forecasts for the full year. We intend to make 2016 into another successful year for Daimler,” stated Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Finance & Controlling and Daimler Financial Services. “However, the markets remain volatile. That makes it even more important for us to strengthen our financial performance and make targeted investments in the future.”

Free cash flow
The free cash flow of the industrial business resulted in a cash inflow of €2.1 billion in the first half of the year (Q1-2 2015: €3.4 billion). This decrease was due to the lower profit contributions from the industrial business in the first quarter. Furthermore, there were higher tax payments, as the prior-year period was influenced by tax refunds. The free cash flow of the industrial business was also impacted by higher investments in intangible assets and property, plant and equipment.

Net liquidity
Compared with December 31, 2015, the net liquidity of the industrial business decreased from €18.6 billion to €17.4 billion. The decrease was mainly caused by the dividend payment of €3.5 billion to the shareholders of Daimler AG, which more than offset the positive free cash flow.

At the end of the second quarter of 2016, Daimler employed 286,860 people worldwide (end of 2015: 284,015; end of Q2 2015: 284,441). Of that total, 172,135 were employed in Germany (end of 2015: 170,454) and 22,948 in the United States (end of 2015: 24,607).

Details of the divisions
Unit sales by the Mercedes-Benz Cars division increased by 9% to 546,500 vehicles in the second quarter of 2016. The car division thus set another record in the past three months. In Europe, Mercedes-Benz Cars sold 13% more vehicles than in the prior-year period, also setting a new record. Particularly strong growth of over 20% was achieved in France, Belgium, Sweden and Poland. In Germany, 7% more cars of the Mercedes-Benz and smart brands were sold in the months of April through June. Mercedes-Benz Cars also set a new record in China, its biggest market (+29%). Unit sales in the United States were slightly lower than in the second quarter of last year.

Revenue increased by 5% to €22.1 billion. The division’s second-quarter EBIT of €1,410 million was significantly lower than the €2,227 million achieved in the prior-year period. The return on sales was 6.4% (Q2 2015: 10.5%). Earnings decreased primarily due to special items such as expenses in connection with Takata airbags, net expenses from the measurement of inventories and the settlement in connection with a patent dispute. Earnings were also reduced by lower unit sales of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the model change of the E-Class, the regional sales structure, higher advance expenditures for new technologies and vehicles, and falling discount rates. Higher unit sales in the SUV segment had a positive impact, however.

Daimler Trucks’ unit sales decreased to 108,300 vehicles in the second quarter (Q2 2015: 125,100). In the EU30 region (European Union, Switzerland and Norway), Daimler Trucks achieved growth of 13% to 20,400 vehicles. In Germany, the core market, 8,300 trucks were sold (Q2 2015: 7,600). In Turkey, lower demand due to the introduction of the Euro VI emission standard in 2016 caused sales to decrease to 3,100 units (Q2 2015: 6,600). The weakening of demand in the NAFTA region had an impact on unit sales, which decreased to 40,600 vehicles (Q2 2015: 49,400). Daimler Trucks continued to strengthen its market leadership in Classes 6-8 and achieved a market share of more than 40%. The development of unit sales in Latin America was negative due to the generally weak market there. In Brazil, the main market, sales fell to 3,000 units (Q2 2015: 4,400). Sales in Indonesia also decreased for market-related reasons to 5,600 units (Q2 2015: 9,500). Sales in the Middle East decreased to 3,900 units (Q2 2015: 7,600). In Japan, unit sales grew by 6% to 11,000 vehicles. Sales of 3,900 trucks in India were higher than in the prior-year quarter (Q2 2015: 3,000). Sales of Auman trucks by the Chinese joint venture BFDA increased by 12% to 21,300 units.

The division’s revenue amounted to €8.7 billion (Q2 2015: €9.4 billion). Its EBIT of €621 million was lower than the high level of the prior-year period (Q2 2015: €682 million). The return on sales was unchanged at 7.2% (Q2 2015: 7.2%). Earnings were positively affected by the growth in unit sales in Europe (EU30), the realization of further efficiency improvements and exchange-rate effects. Negative effects on earnings resulted from lower unit sales in the NAFTA region, Turkey, Latin America, Indonesia and the Middle East. Earnings were also reduced by the intensely competitive environment in Europe. EBIT also includes expenses for workforce adjustments in the context of ongoing optimization programs in Brazil.

Mercedes-Benz Vans increased its unit sales by 22% to the new record of 99,600 vehicles in the second quarter of 2016. In its core region of Western Europe, the division achieved significant growth in unit sales of 19%. Mercedes-Benz Vans achieved strong growth in the United Kingdom (+15%), France (+17%), Spain (+26%) and Italy (+38%). Unit sales also increased significantly in the key market of Germany (+19%). Primarily due to strong demand in Poland, Czechia and Hungary, sales in Eastern Europe grew by 23%. The development of unit sales was positive once again in the NAFTA region, with growth of 10% in the United States. But markets remained difficult in Latin America, where unit sales decreased by 19%. Strong growth of 122% was achieved in China.

Revenue also grew significantly compared with the prior-year quarter: by 22% to the new record of €3.4 billion (Q2 2015: €2.8 billion). The division’s second-quarter EBIT of €401 million was substantially higher than last year’s €234 million, and was also a best-ever figure. The return on sales also rose significantly to 11.7%, compared with 8.3% in the second quarter of 2015. EBIT reflects the very positive development of unit sales, especially in Europe, the NAFTA region and China, as well as efficiency improvements. On the other hand, there was an expense in connection with Takata airbags.

Daimler Buses’ second quarter unit sales of 7,000 buses and bus chassis were lower than the prior-year number of 7,300 units. Growth in Western Europe due to increased demand for complete buses partially offset the fall in unit sales of chassis in Latin America. In Western Europe, 2,000 buses of the Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands were sold (Q2 2015: 1,800). In Germany, the domestic market, unit sales improved by 5% along with unchallenged market leadership. Sales of 3,000 units in Latin America (excluding Mexico) were significantly lower than in the prior-year quarter (Q2 2015: 3,300). The ongoing difficult economic situation in Brazil, the region’s biggest market, continued to have a negative impact on demand for bus chassis. In Mexico, 600 units were sold (Q2 2015: 900).

As a result of the stronger business with complete buses, revenue grew to €1.1 billion (Q2 2015: €1.0 billion). The division’s EBIT of €88 million was significantly above the prior-year level (Q2 2015: €57 million) and resulted in a return on sales of 7.8% (Q2 2015: 5.5%). The persistently difficult economic situation in Latin America and also the associated decline in demand for chassis negatively affected earnings in the second quarter. Continued strong demand for complete buses, a positive product-mix in Western Europe and positive exchange-rate effects more than offset the negative impact in Latin America.

The restructuring of the Group’s own dealer network also had a negative impact on the earnings of the automotive divisions.

Daimler Financial Services once again increased its new business in the second quarter of 2016: Worldwide, approximately 411,000 new leasing and financing contracts were concluded with a total volume of €15.4 billion, representing growth of 4% compared with the prior-year period. Contract volume reached €120.3 billion at the end of June and was 3% above the level of year-end 2015. Adjusted for exchange-rate effects, contract volume grew by 4%.

In the second quarter of 2016, the division achieved earnings of €479 million, which is higher than in the prior-year period (Q2 2015: €445 million). This was mainly the result of increased contract volume in all regions, which more than offset the negative exchange-rate effects.

The reconciliation of the divisions’ EBIT to Group EBIT comprises gains at the corporate level and the effects on earnings of eliminating intra-group transactions between the divisions. Items at the corporate level resulted in income of €237 million in the second quarter of 2016 (Q2 2015: €66 million). In order to strengthen its German pension plan assets sustainably, Daimler contributed its shares in Renault and Nissan into the pension plan assets, resulting in a gain of €605 million. However, the reconciliation also includes expenses related to legal proceedings. Losses on currency transactions of €19 million, which are not allocated to business operations, also had a negative impact (Q2 2015: €0 million). The elimination of intra-group transactions resulted in income of €22 million in the second quarter of 2016 (Q2 2015: income of €7 million).

The special items shown in the table on page 12 continued to affect EBIT in the second quarters of 2016 and 2015.

Investments in the future
The Daimler Group invested €2.5 billion in property, plant and equipment in the first six months of this year (Q1-2 2015: €2.1 billion). Most of that investment, €1.8 billion, was at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division (Q1-2 2015: €1.6 billion). The main focus of capital expenditure was on production preparations for new models, in particular the new E-Class and its derivatives and the derivatives of the C-Class, as well as investments for new transmissions and engine versions. Another area of capital expenditure was for the ongoing expansion of the international production and component plants. At Daimler Trucks, the main investments were for engines, transmissions and new vehicles, as well as the optimization of the worldwide production network.

The Daimler Group’s research and development spending in the first half of the year amounted to €3.6 billion (Q1-2 2015: €3.1 billion), of which €1.1 billion was capitalized (Q1-2 2015: €0.8 billion). More than two thirds of the research and development spending was at the Mercedes-Benz Cars segment. The main areas there, as at Daimler Trucks, were new vehicle models, particularly fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly drive systems, and the intensification of the modular strategy.

Outlook for the markets
At the beginning of the third quarter, there are many indications that the world economy will continue along its course of expansion with growth rates below their long-term trends. At present, world gross domestic product (GDP) is growing at a year-on-year rate of nearly 2.5% and growth for the full year is expected to be of that magnitude.

According to recent assessments, worldwide demand for cars is likely to increase from its high level by about 3% in 2016. As in the previous year, the biggest contribution to this global growth should come from the Chinese market, which is likely to grow again significantly. But the expected increase in demand will be largely due to state stimulus. For the US market for cars and light trucks, Daimler anticipates a volume in the magnitude of last year. Slight growth is anticipated for the Western European car market. This growth should continue to take place on a relatively broad basis, whereby the greatest need to catch up exists in markets such as Italy, France and Spain. Uncertainty in the United Kingdom following the referendum result in favor of exit from the European Union is likely to primarily affect the British market. Only a slight impact is to be expected on the overall market of Western Europe. In Japan at best, stabilization of demand is to be expected following the significant market correction of 2015. Prospects for the large emerging markets remain mixed. In India, market growth is likely to remain solid. In Russia, however, the ongoing recession is likely to cause another significant drop in car sales.

Demand for medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the regions important for Daimler should be perceptibly below the prior-year volume. In North America, weak overall investment is having a significant impact on the truck market. From today’s perspective, demand for Class 6-8 trucks is likely to decrease by approximately 15%. But the European market seems to be fairly unaffected so far by political turbulence and the uncertain development of the world economy, and should continue its recovery with growth in the magnitude of 10% this year. Daimler Trucks currently does not expect the United Kingdom’s planned exit from the EU to have a significant impact on demand for trucks in Europe this year. The Brazilian market shows no signs of improvement. Due to the ongoing economic recession, further market contraction in the magnitude of 25% has to be anticipated.

The situation in the Russian market will remain difficult, so demand there is expected to fall again. Demand in China is likely to recover significantly after last year’s sharp market contraction. Demand in Japan for light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks is likely to be relatively solid; in a rather sluggish economic environment, market volume should be at about the prior-year level. The Indonesian truck market is likely to contract once again; from today’s perspective, contraction of approximately 15% is anticipated. In India, further significant growth is to be expected in the segment of medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Daimler now expects significant growth in the market for midsize, large and small vans in Western Europe in 2016. Also in the United States, significant growth in demand for large vans is anticipated. In Latin America, however, further significant contraction in the market for large vans is expected, while in China, more lively demand is anticipated in the market addressed there.

Daimler expects a slightly larger market volume for buses in Western Europe in 2016 than in 2015. Following the substantial drop in demand for buses in Brazil, the bus division anticipates further significant market contraction there in full-year 2016.

Outlook for the divisions
On the basis of the assumptions presented above on the development of important markets and of the division’s current assessments, Daimler expects a significant increase in total unit sales once again in the year 2016. However, the rate of growth is likely to be rather lower than in 2015, which featured exceptional dynamism.

Following the strongest first half of a year for Mercedes-Benz Cars with more than a million vehicles sold, the division intends to continue its growth in the second half and to significantly increase its unit sales in full-year 2016. This will be primarily driven by the new E-Class sedan, which was launched recently. The new E-Class wagon can also be ordered in Europe as of July. In the fall, the long-wheelbase version of the new E-Class sedan will be at the Chinese dealerships and is expected to provide further sales stimulus. At the same time, the Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid initiative is in full swing: Two more models and thus number seven and eight are poised to arrive in dealer showrooms still in 2016. The new GLC coupe and C-Class convertible – two models without a predecessor in the current product portfolio – will also boost sales in the third quarter. Additional growth in unit sales will be ensured by the revised versions of the CLA and CLA Shooting Brake. And the smart convertible will be launched in the United States in time for the summer.

For the year 2016, Daimler Trucks now expects significantly lower unit sales than in 2015. In the NAFTA region, the division anticipates a considerable decrease in unit sales due to generally weak demand. In the Middle East, the continuation of low oil prices is having a negative impact on demand, so unit sales there are expected to be significantly lower than in the previous year. Truck sales in the EU30 region (European Union, Switzerland and Norway) should increase along with rising market expectations. In Turkey, a significant decrease in unit sales is anticipated. This is primarily due to purchases being brought forward to 2015 because of the Euro VI emission standard, which took effect as of January 2016 also in Turkey. Due to the lack of economic dynamism, unit sales in Brazil are likely to decrease again in 2016. In Japan, the division expects to maintain its truck sales at the level of the previous year. In India, more trucks should be sold than in 2015. And additional unit sales will be generated in Asia and Africa with the expanded range of FUSO vehicles produced in India. In Indonesia, a decrease in unit sales is expected due to the overall weakness of demand in that market.

Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to achieve significant growth in unit sales in 2016. The division anticipates a further significant increase in sales of vans above all in Western Europe, the core market. In the context of the strategy for the division, »Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global«, following the successful market launch of the V-Class in China in spring 2016, the new Vito will also be launched there in the second half of the year. This will strengthen the division’s presence in the market it addresses in that country.

Daimler Buses assumes that it will be able to defend its market leadership in its core markets for buses above 8 tons with innovative, high-quality and modern products. For the year 2016, the division now anticipates total unit sales at slightly below the prior-year level. This is based on the ongoing assumption of significant growth in unit sales in Western Europe. Following the significant decrease in Brazil in 2015, another significant fall in unit sales is expected in 2016. In Mexico, unit sales are expected to be at prior-year level.

Daimler Financial Services anticipates slight growth in new business and further growth in contract volume in the year 2016, driven by the growth offensives of the automotive divisions. In addition, the division is utilizing new market potential especially in Asia and is applying new and digital possibilities for customer contacts – in particular by systematically further developing its online sales channels. Daimler Financial Services continues to see good growth opportunities also in the field of innovative mobility services.

Outlook for the Group
Daimler assumes that Group revenue will increase slightly in full-year 2016. In regional terms, the strongest revenue growth is anticipated in Asia and Western Europe, but business volumes should grow also in the other regions.

On the basis of the market development and the assessments of the divisions, Daimler assumes that it will slightly increase its EBIT adjusted for special items in 2016.

The individual divisions have the following expectations for EBIT adjusted for special items in the year 2016:

– Mercedes-Benz Cars: slightly above the prior-year level,
– Daimler Trucks: significantly below the prior-year level,
– Mercedes-Benz Vans: significantly above the prior-year level,
– Daimler Buses: slightly above the prior-year level, and
– Daimler Financial Services: slightly above the prior-year level.

The anticipated development of earnings in the automotive divisions will have a positive impact on the free cash flow of the industrial business also in 2016. The free cash flow in the year 2015 was significantly affected by extraordinary contributions to the German and American pension-plan assets of €1.2 billion, as well as by the acquisition of a stake in the digital mapping business, HERE, for an amount of €0.7 billion. As the investment offensive in products and technologies will be continued and intensified, the free cash flow of the industrial business adjusted for special items should be significantly lower in 2016 than the comparable amount of €5.9 billion in 2015. Daimler assumes, however, that it will be significantly higher than the dividend distribution in the year 2016.

In order to achieve the ambitious growth targets, the already very high investment in property, plant and equipment will be significantly increased once again in the year 2016 (2015: €5.1 billion). In addition to capital expenditure, the position in the emerging markets is being strengthened by means of targeted financial investments in joint ventures and equity interests.

With research and development activities, the Group anticipates a total volume significantly above the previous year’s spending of €6.6 billion. Key projects at Mercedes-Benz Cars include successor models in the current compact class as well as the GLS and GLE SUVs. In addition, Daimler is investing in the automotive divisions in new, low-emission and fuel-efficient engines, alternative drive systems, autonomous driving, a new battery generation and the connected and digital user interface. Key projects at Daimler Trucks include the development of tailored products and technologies for the Brazilian market and for the FUSO product portfolio.

Against the backdrop of further efficiency progress in the context of medium- and long-term programs for structural improvements in the business processes, Daimler assumes that it will be able to achieve its ambitious growth targets with only slight workforce growth.

Other important events
At the end of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting held on April 6, 2016, the periods of office ended of Petraea Heynike and Dr. Manfred Bischoff as members of the Supervisory Board. The Annual Shareholders’ Meeting reelected both of them with great majorities as members of the Supervisory Board representing the shareholders. Their new periods of office began at the end of the 2016 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting and will terminate at the end of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting held in 2021. In a meeting of the Supervisory Board straight after the 2016 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, the Supervisory Board once again elected Dr. Manfred Bischoff as its Chairman. Dr. Sabine Maaßen stepped down from the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG as of June 30, 2016. The procedure of a court-appointed successor is currently in progress.

The Supervisory Board of Daimler AG decided on a contribution to the pension-plan assets of approximately €1.8 billion at the end of June. This contribution is taking place by placing the investments in Renault S.A. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. into the pension-plan assets of Daimler AG. This improves the funded status of the pension obligations and leads to a one-time effect on EBIT of plus approximately €0.6 billion in 2016. Irrespective of this financial transaction, Daimler is continuing the successful strategic cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Daimler Financial Services is making strategic investments in the fleet-management business and is acquiring Athlon Car Lease International B.V. for €1.1 billion. Athlon’s portfolio will be merged with that of Daimler Fleet Management under the Athlon brand. This will create one of the leading providers in the European fleet-management business with a portfolio of approximately 340,000 cars and vans. The transaction is awaiting the required approvals from antitrust and other regulatory authorities, and is likely to be closed in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Mercedes-Benz Cars plans to establish a new engine plant in Poland and will at first invest approximately €0.5 billion at the production site in Jawor, about 70 kilometers west of Wroclaw. Starting in 2019, four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines are to be produced there for Mercedes-Benz cars. Several hundred jobs will be created in the first stage of production.

The moovel Group merged its two US subsidiaries, RideScout and GlobeSherpa, in April. This consolidation under the roof of moovel North America will strengthen the activities in the American market. moovel Group GmbH is focusing on the two products moovel transit and RideTap in the United States, and on the moovel mobility app in Germany. Hamburg is the first German city with more than a million inhabitants to be integrated into moovel with a one-stop shop for urban mobility. In addition to car2go, Flinkster, mytaxi and train journeys, the moovel app can also be used to book and pay for online tickets of the Hamburg public transport authority.

Daimler Buses presented an autonomously driving city bus in mid-July. The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot had its first autonomous journey on an urban route in Amsterdam. The bus drives at speeds up to 70 km/h, stops at bus stops and traffic lights exact to the nearest centimeter, drives away automatically, passes through tunnels and brakes for pedestrians and obstacles ahead of it. The driver monitors the system and has a much easier task. By 2020, Daimler Buses will invest approximately €200 million in the further development of its city-bus portfolio.

Source: Daimler AG