Daimler warns on 2019 profit outlook as diesel issues bite

Daimler must recall 60,000 Mercedes diesel cars in Germany after regulators found that they were fitted with software aimed at distorting emissions tests. (AFP)
Updated 24 June 2019
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Daimler warns on 2019 profit outlook as diesel issues bite

  • Group earnings before interest and tax this year are now expected to be at last year’s level
  • Daimler must recall 60,000 Mercedes diesel cars in Germany after regulators found that they were fitted with software aimed at distorting emissions tests

FRANKFURT: Daimler cut its 2019 earnings outlook on Sunday after lifting provisions for issues related to its diesel vehicles by hundreds of millions of euros.
Group earnings before interest and tax this year are now expected to be at last year’s level, the carmaker said, against a previous estimate for a slight increase. Earnings will be affected in the second quarter, it said.
The revision is related to an expected increase in expenses linked to “various ongoing governmental proceedings and measures” with regard to Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles, the company said.
The increase in the provision is likely to be “a high three-digit million-euro amount,” it added.
A spokesman declined to be more specific on the size of the provision increase and would not elaborate on the nature of the diesel issues behind the decision.
However, Sunday’s profit warning follows news over the weekend that Daimler must recall 60,000 Mercedes diesel cars in Germany after regulators found that they were fitted with software aimed at distorting emissions tests.
The transportation ministry said it was expanding its investigation into further models.
The Stuttgart-based owner of Mercedes-Benz is being investigated for its diesel emissions in Europe and the United States. It issued a similar profit warning on diesel issues in October.
In April, EU antitrust regulators charged BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler with colluding to block the rollout of clean emissions technology.
While Daimler was a whistleblower in that case and said at the time that it expected to avoid fines, BMW booked a provision of more than $1.14 billion (€1 billion).
Daimler also said it was reducing its forecast for the return on sales for Mercedes-Benz vans.
It now sees a return between minus 2 percent and minus 4 percent, below its previous forecast of a return on sales of 0 percent to 2 percent.
On Monday, car executives are due to meet with government officials and experts at the chancellery in Berlin to talk about the future of the car industry.
Daimler is one of a number of German automakers massively expanding in electric vehicles as European regulators clamp down on toxic diesel emissions.


Japan’s Nissan reportedly to double global job cuts to over 10,000

Updated 44 min 47 sec ago
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Japan’s Nissan reportedly to double global job cuts to over 10,000

  • The global plan includes the 4,800 job cuts announced in May
  • It will mostly be at factories overseas with low utilization rates

TOKYO: Nissan plans to expand job cuts to over 10,000 to help turn around its business, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, as profit continues to plunge while the automaker grapples with management upheaval.
The global plan includes the 4,800 job cuts announced in May and will mostly be at factories overseas with low utilization rates, the person said. It will be announced along with financial results on Thursday, said the person, who declined to be identified as the information was still private.
Nissan declined to comment on the job cuts. Its shares ended the day up nearly 1.0 percent.
Analysts expect Nissan to post one of its weakest quarterly performances since the 2008 global financial crisis when it announces its first-quarter earnings on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Nikkei business daily reported the automaker would report operating profit of “several billion yen” for the quarter, around a 90 percent drop from 109.1 billion yen a year earlier. Analysts estimate a decline of 64 percent.
The job cuts, exceeding 7 percent of Nissan’s 138,000-strong workforce, come as Nissan struggles to improve dismal profit margins in the United States, a key market where former Chairman Carlos Ghosn for years pushed to aggressively grow market share during his time as chief executive.
Years of heavy discounting to grow sales in the world’s second-biggest auto market have left Nissan with falling demand for the Altima sedan and other models, a cheapened brand image and low resale values, while the costs to offer high discounts have hit its bottom line.
The latest job cuts also highlight the extent of problems facing Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, who is also grappling with fractured relations with French alliance partner Renault following the arrest of their shared former chairman.
Ghosn has been charged with financial misconduct and denies wrongdoing.
Saikawa kept his job in a vote at an annual shareholders meeting last month, though he had to fight off a rare rebuke by top proxy advisory firms who urged shareholders not to reappoint him considering he was groomed for leadership by Ghosn.
In May, Nissan forecast a 28 percent plunge in annual operating profit, adding to a 45 percent fall in the previous year, putting the automaker on course for its weakest earnings in 11 years.
While addressing faltering performance, Saikawa also has to repair trust with Renault, which has deteriorated in past months as the French automaker sought more control within Nissan.
Renault owns 43 percent of the Japanese automaker, which in turn holds a 15 percent, non-voting stake in its partner. Saikawa, who has sought more equal footing with Renault, last month said Nissan would postpone discussions on the alliance’s future to prioritize performance.
The extended job cuts were first reported by Kyodo late on Tuesday.