SINDELFINGEN, Germany, Feb 19 (Reuters) - DaimlerChrysler <DCXGn.DE>
said on Thursday that its struggling U.S. unit Chrysler missed its
target to break even last year but forecast a slight increase in group
operating profit in 2004.
"DaimlerChrysler is striving to achieve a slight increase in operating
profit in 2004 compared to the results in 2003," the company said in a
The world's fifth-biggest car maker said its Chrysler division, also
known for its Jeep and Dodge vehicles, made an operating loss of 506
million euros ($644.9 million) in 2003 after the group spent 469
million on continuing restructuring.
Stripping out restructuring costs, Chrysler still lost 40 million
euros. The group said in a statement it expected earnings at Chrysler
to increase from 2004.
Profit at Mercedes, DaimlerChrysler's (nyse: DCX - news - people) main
source of income in recent years, rose three percent to 3.126 billion
euros, while its recovering trucks business posted operating profit of
855 million against a loss of 300 million in 2002.
Earlier this month, the Stuttgart-based group posted 2003 profit
excluding one-off items of 5.1 billion euros, beating its
five-billion-euro goal, but down from 5.8 billion in 2002.
Shares in the group, whose Chrysler unit is key to its stock
performance, have been trading just below 15-month peaks struck in
late January amid hopes for an improving U.S. market. They were up
0.35 percent at 37.10 euros in early trade on Thursday.
Chrysler, facing a U.S. price war and fierce competition from Japanese
rivals, has been the main setback in a six-year global strategy which
has seen Germany's Daimler-Benz merge with Chrysler and purchase
stakes in Korea's Hyundai <005380.KS> and Japan's Mitsubishi Motors
Its problems do not end in the United States though. Mercedes is
facing stiff competition in the luxury segment from Munich-based BMW
<BMWG.DE>, and DaimlerChrysler may yet have to pump more money into
DaimlerChrysler said on Wednesday it had extended Chief Executive
Juergen Schrempp's contract to 2008, giving him four more years to
salvage his dream of creating a global car maker.
Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service