Daimler races ahead of expectations in Q1

CEO of German carmaker Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, Dieter Zetsche, poses inside a Mercedes-AMG C 63 Cabriolet ahead of the annual shareholders meeting in Berlin, on March 29, 2017

German top-of-the-range carmaker Daimler said its underlying profits overtook expectations and almost doubled in the first three months of the year, driven by the strong performance of its Mercedes-Benz brand.

Daimler said in a statement released late Tuesday that underlying or operating profit totalled four billion euros ($4.2 billion) in the period from January to March, up from 2.1 billion euros a year earlier.

"Daimler has achieved group earnings before interest and tax for the first quarter 2017 that are significantly above market expectations," the company said.

Daimler, which overtook arch-rival BMW to become the world's biggest maker of luxury cars by sales in 2016, said that its Mercedes-Benz division turned in operating profit of 2.2 billion euros in the January-March period, up 60 percent from the year-earlier period.

Daimler Trucks lifted profits by 29 percent to 668 million euros.

One-off factors also boosted earnings, such as a deal to bring on board new partners and investors for the digital mapping service HERE, Daimler said.

It also booked gains from the sale of real estate at Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation and the reversal of writedowns on its investment in its Chinese partner, Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation (BAIC).

Daimler said it is scheduled to publish full details of its first-quarter results on April 26.