Daimler cuts earnings forecast in the face of recession fears

Daimler-AGBerlin  - Giant German carmaker Daimler AG became the first of the country's key auto groups Thursday to report its third-quarter results, reducing its earnings forecast again in face of deepening economic gloom.

The manufacturer of luxury Mercedes-Benz vehicles said it now expected to post operating profit in 2008 "of more than 6 billion euros" (7.67 billion dollars).

Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche had three months previously reduced the group's 2008 earnings to about 7.0 billion euros from 7.7 billion euros, amid concerns that high energy prices and the prospects of an economic downturn will keep car buyers away from showrooms.

The group's third-quarter net earnings were 213 million euros compared with a 1.53-billion-euro loss a year earlier, the company said. The weak state of the auto business has resulted in analysts expecting the German car sector to begin offering discounts to try to encourage sales.

Germany car industry leaders have also launched a campaign for government aid to help the key export sector to limp through the current financial crisis.

Stuttgart-based Daimler confirmed last month said it was in talks to finally sever links with troubled US carmaker Chrysler, selling off its remaining 19.9-per-cent stake to the US equity group Cerberus Capital Management LP.

This comes just over a year after Cerberus bought an 80.1-per-cent stake in Chrysler from Daimler, as the German carmaker moved to end its nine-year troubled relationship with the US vehicle group. (dpa)