Daimler pays bigger bonuses, dividend after record year

FRANKFURT – German car and truck maker Daimler has reported record profits for last year as sales of its luxury cars rose despite a troubled global economy.

And that means more cash for investors and workers.

The company is raising its dividend to 3.25 euros ($3.60) per share, from 2.45 euros. It will also pay profit-sharing of 5,650 euros ($6,215) for each of the 125,000 eligible workers in Germany, with the money to appear in their April paychecks.

Last year, workers got 4,350 euros in profit-sharing.

While it was a good full year, fourth-quarter earnings missed analyst estimates and the company issued a cautious outlook for 2016, saying that operating profits would only “increase slightly.”

Daimler AG shares fell 3.3 per cent and traded at 60.87 euros.

Net profit for the year rose 23 per cent to 8.9 billion euros from 7.3 billion euros in 2014, while revenue jumped 15 per cent to 149.5 billion euros. Sales of the company’s Mercedes-Benz luxury cars rose 16 per cent. Truck and bus businesses did less well, hit by weak markets in Latin America.

A key earnings figure watched by analyst — earnings excluding discontinued businesses, interest and taxes — rose 36 per cent to 13.8 billion euros from 10.1 billion euros.

CEO Dieter Zetsche said that “2015 was a good year for Daimler.”

“We know from experience: Getting to the top is hard, but staying at the top is even harder,” he said. “That’s our ambition: Daimler belongs at the top on a sustained basis.”

For the fourth quarter, net profit rose 77 per cent to 2.1 billion euros from 1.2 billion in the same quarter a year previously. The year-earlier figure was held back by 600 million in charges for an anti-trust investigation.

The fourth quarter figure missed estimates for 2.25 billion as compiled by financial information provider FactSet.