Daimler vows to cut costs after one-offs bring loss

Daimler reduced its sales outlook for Mercedes-Benz cars and said €4.2 billion in one-off expenses hit earnings, mainly at the cars and vans divisions. (AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Daimler vows to cut costs after one-offs bring loss

  • Company reduced its sales outlook for Mercedes-Benz cars and said €4.2 billion in one-off expenses hit earnings
  • Daimler pledged to cut costs in response but provided few details

FRANKFURT: Luxury carmaker Daimler said it would intensify cost cuts after legal risks for diesel-related issues and the cost of replacing Takata airbags triggered $1.74 billion (€1.56 billion) loss before interest and taxes in the second quarter.
The company reduced its sales outlook for Mercedes-Benz cars and said €4.2 billion in one-off expenses hit earnings, mainly at the cars and vans divisions, contributing to an operating loss at group level, compared with a €2.6 billion profit in the second quarter last year.
“We can’t help but note that this is the lowest level of money in the bank since the depths of the financial crisis,” Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton said. “Raising Daimler’s operating performance is not going to be a quick fix.”
Daimler pledged to cut costs in response but provided few details under new Chief Executive Ola Kaellenius, who took up the top job two months ago.
“In general, we are intensifying the group-wide performance programs and reviewing our product portfolio in order to safeguard future success,” Kaellenius said on Wednesday.
Rival Aston Martin also announced cost cuts and its shares tumbled after it lowered its outlook for operating profit on slowing demand, while peer Peugeot bucked the industry downturn with a sharp increase in first-half profit.
Daimler will provide details about potential cost cuts and its strategy on November 14 during its capital markets day.
Earlier this month, the Stuttgart-based carmaker had given an initial outline of earnings in what amounted to its fourth profit warning in 13 months, saying its 2019 group EBIT would be “significantly” lower than last year.
The Stuttgart-based carmaker said it now expects unit sales for Mercedes-Benz Cars to be at the prior-year level, revising its previous forecast of achieving a slight increase, following a sharp slowdown in demand in China.
Daimler said on Tuesday that China’s Beijing Automotive Group Co. Ltd. has bought a 5 percent stake in the company, cementing their long-standing alliance.
Unblocking supplier bottlenecks which have delayed production of Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLS models will help push sales of luxury cars in the second half of 2019, Kaellenius said.
“Daimler is blaming supplier bottlenecks and quality issues pretty much across all divisions for its poor financial performance. These are certainly not external factors outside of management’s control,” analysts at Evercore ISI said.
Daimler made a provision of €2.6 billion to cover diesel-related expenses in the first half of 2019 after German regulator KBA ordered a recall of 60,000 Mercedes-Benz GLK models, claiming the vehicles made use of illegal engine software. Daimler has appealed the KBA ruling.
The carmaker declined to break down in detail how much of the amount was allocated for recalls, updates and potential fines and litigation.
Daimler’s diesel pollution levels are being investigated by prosecutors in Stuttgart, Germany, where it is headquartered, as well as by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
Pressure to clean up combustion engines has come at a time when the industry has to invest heavily in electric and self-driving vehicles, and cope with slowing growth in China, weak markets in Europe and a rise in global trade tensions.
Passenger car sales slowed 3 percent during the quarter and the return on sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars swung to a negative 3 percent in the quarter, down from 8.4 percent in the year-earlier period.


Jubilant cheers as Dubai begins one-year countdown to Expo 2020

Updated 20 October 2019

Jubilant cheers as Dubai begins one-year countdown to Expo 2020

  • Dubai prepares for eye-catching countdown on Burj Khalifa
  • Live performances from singer Mariah Carey and acclaimed Emirati singer and Expo 2020 ambassador Hussain Al-Jassmi

DUBAI: Crowds gathered at different locations in the UAE on Sunday night to mark its one-year countdown to Expo 2020 in October next year, with host emirates Dubai staging a spectacular concert, topped by a light projection on the iconic Burj Khalifa.

American superstar Mariah Carey was the star of the night, which also saw performances from regional artists including Khalifa, Shamma Hamdan, Abri and Funk Radius, Showcase and Jaysus Zain. The audience also grooved to a few Arabic tunes from Emirati singer Hussain Al-Jassmi.

A make-shift stage was set up at the Burj Park in Dubai’s downtown area to host the performances, while people also enjoyed a good view of the tallest building in the world. The countdown was facilitated by Emirati social media sensation Khalid Al-Ameri and Bollywood actress Shraddah Kapoor. 

A 3-minute firework display lit up the skies of Dubai as the crowd eagerly waited for Carey to appear on stage.

The 49-year-old singer sang her all-time favorite songs, including “Emotion,” “We Belong Together,” and a revival of the Motown classic “I’ll Be There,” to an enthusiastic audience who didn’t mind the heat and humidity at the outdoor venue.

The other six emirates also marked the occasion with free-for-all activities in venues such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah, Ajman Museum, Umm Al Quwain Corniche, Al Qawasim Corniche in Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah Fort.

The events, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Expo 2020 Director-General Reem Al-Hashimy said, will “offer a window into the once-in-a-lifetime celebration that awaits from October 20, 2020.”

“The next 12 months will see us put the finishing touches to ensure an exceptional World Expo,” she added, in a report by state-run WAM.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi featured YouTube sensation Sandra Sahi, as well as singers Stephon Lemar, Layla Kardan, the Emirati Trio.

Indian band ROOH, singer and pianist Clarita de Quiroz, Egyptian oud player Rami Zaki and other regional artists were celebrating the count down at Sharjah’s Al Marjaz waterfront.

While the Ajman Museum hosted Arabic fusion band, pop-rock musician Hydyy, Emirati soul singer Chakram, poet Storm Fernandes, artist Humaira Hussain and MC Mohammed Enaba.

The 6-month Expo 2020, to be held at a vast new site in the south of Dubai, will officially open on Oct. 20 next year, with organizers expecting an estimate of 25 million visitors.