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Daimler Q4 profit grows 39% on strong Mercedes sales
Daimler reported a 39 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit, boosted by demand for the revamped Mercedes-Benz M- and C-class models.

Earnings before interest and taxes gained to 2.18 billion euros ($2.9 billion) from 1.56 billion euros a year ago, the automaker said Thursday.

The figure compared with the 2.17 billion-euro average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales rose 10 percent to 29.1 billion euros.

Daimler proposed a dividend of 2.20 euros for 2011, higher than the previous year's 1.85 euros, after net income for the year advanced 29 percent to 6.03 billion euros.

Daimler has vowed to retake the luxury-car lead from BMW after slipping last year to third place behind Audi.

In 2011, Mercedes reported brand sales of 1.26 million units, behind Audi with 1.3 million and leader BMW, which sold 1.38 million cars and SUVs.

To outpace its rivals, Mercedes plans to introduce 10 new models by 2015, including compacts and the CLS Shooting Brake, a wagon-like variant of the $71,300 four-door coupe.

Costs to roll out the cars and an overhauled Actros long-haul truck may burden 2012 earnings.

"The dividend is surprisingly good and higher than the market was expecting," said Albrecht Denninghoff, a Frankfurt- based analyst with Silvia Quandt Research. "The figures are in line, while the outlook is cautious. We're staying with our buy recommendation."

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