Automaker Daimler sees full-year earnings sag by half

FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 file photo the logo of Daimler is photographed on a car in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. The maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars says its earnings fell by about half last year.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Germany's Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, saw its operating earnings fall by half in 2019 as its flagship luxury brand saw weaker profits in a tougher global auto market and as its vans division lost money.

The Stuttgart-based company said in a statement that operating earnings fell to 5.6 billion euros ($6.2 billion) for all of 2019 from 11.1 billion euros in 2018.

The company said it would be hit with 1.1 billion euros to 1.5 billion euros in charges for regulatory and legal issues related to its diesel models.

Profit at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division, a pillar of the company's earnings, fell to 3.7 billion euros from 7.2 billion euros. But the return on sales - a key measure of how profitable the company's cars are - fell by less, to 7.2% from 7.8%.

Global automakers have faced pressure from slowing sales in key markets, particularly Chinas, the world's largest car market. Meanwhile, companies are under pressure to invest billions in electric cars to meet regulatory demands in the European Union and China even though electrics remain a low single-digit share of the market.

The company's truck division, which includes Portland, Oregon-based Freightliner and Thomas Built school buses, saw a smaller decrease to 2.5 billion euros from 2.8 billion.

Operating earnings exclude financial items such as interest and tax and thus present a less complete picture of the bottom line than does net profit. But investors and analysts often focus on operating earnings as a clearer picture of how the company's core business is faring. The company releases full figures Feb. 11.

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