Daimler posts strong third quarter despite coronavirus uncertainty

German carmaker Daimler posted a better-than-expected performance for the third quarter on Friday, but said that the blow to sales dealt by the coronavirus pandemic will only be partially offset by the end of the year.

The Mercedes-Benz parent company now expects a 2020 operating profit to match the previous year’s result of 4.3 billion euros (5.1 billion dollars).

However, 2019 set the bar low due to billions of euros in costs as a result of the Stuttgart-based luxury carmaker’s reckoning with the emissions cheating scandal.

The second quarter, during which the brunt of coronavirus shutdowns and restrictions took their toll on the economy, dragged Daimler deep into the red.

But the company reported an unexpectedly swift recovery in demand in the third quarter, while also noting that operations had become more cost-efficient.

“With this momentum, we are on track to make our business more weatherproof,” said Harald Wilhelm, member of the board for finance.

“However, the transformation of Daimler is a long-distance race. We are keeping up the pace with focus and full discipline,” he said in a statement.

Daimler’s outlook is based on expectations that economic conditions in its key markets continue to normalize and that no further setbacks occur as a result of the global pandemic, the statement said.

The automaker sold just under 773,000 cars, trucks and busses in the third quarter, down 8 per cent on the year.

Revenue slipped by 7 per cent to 40.3 billion euros, compared to the same period last year.

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