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DaimlerChrysler Earnings Jump

DaimlerChrysler AG said Tuesday its earnings were up 14 percent in the third quarter on record sales for Chrysler and Mercedes cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The German-American automaker said it earned $1.6 billion, or $1.65 a share, after adjustments for one-time charges and profits. That compares to $1.41 billion, or $1.45 a share, in the same period a year ago.

Revenues on the quarter rose 15 percent, from $33.4 billion to $38.6 billion, due to growth in most of DaimlerChrysler's automotive, services and aerospace business units, the company said. The figures are based on the exchange rate for the euro in effect on Sept. 30.

The results surpassed Wall Street estimates of $1.39 a share.

"These results clearly illustrate sustained momentum across our automotive businesses, thanks to a very attractive range of products and services," DaimlerChrysler co-chairmen Robert J. Eaton and Juergen E. Schrempp said in a joint statement.

"In an increasingly competitive environment across worldwide markets, we are able to defend profit margins with our high-quality products, innovations and superior service."

The company said its Chrysler car division had record revenues of $16.1 billion for the three months ending in September, an increase of 19 percent over last year. Its operating profit was up 26 percent, from $984 million to $1.2 billion, before a $149 million charge for lump-sum retiree payments under a new contract with the United Auto Workers.

Chrysler's U.S. sales are up 7.5 percent this year, thanks mostly to a 10 percent increase in truck and SUV sales. The company said its production was slowed by 25,000 vehicles due to Hurricane Floyd, but that it would catch up in the fourth quarter. It also said Chrysler incentives were lower than its competitors.

The Mercedes-Benz and Smart car division had revenues of $9.8 billion, a 15 percent increase over last year. Sales of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars were up seven percent in the quarter and 12 percent for the first nine months of the year. Sales of the compact Smart car, available only in Europe, totaled 51,300 in the first nine months.

For the year so far, DaimlerChrysler has earned $4.9 billion, or $4.92 a share, an increase of 12 percent over last year, on revenues of $115 billion.

DaimlerChrysler forecast continued strong growth in profits and revenues, saying revenues for all of 1999 were expected to increase about 11 percent over 1998, to $155 billion.

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