FRANKFURT Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) shares rose more than 3 percent in early trade on Wednesday after the Mercedes maker reported higher than expected first-quarter earnings, boosted by one-off gains and a rise in sales of luxury cars.
In an unscheduled release of headline figures before full results due on April 26, Daimler late on Tuesday said group earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) jumped 87 percent to 4.01 billion euros ($4.25 billion), thanks partly to 690 million euros in one-off gains.
Daimler's results were lifted by revaluing a stake in mapping company HERE, as well as by the sale of some real estate and the reversal of an impairment charge on its stake in Chinese carmaker BAIC (1958.HK).
Daimler shares pared gains to trade 1.4 percent higher at 67.54 euros by 0801 GMT (04:01 a.m. EDT), still topping the German blue-chip DAX .GDAXI which was up 0.6 percent.
"Solid earnings give some relief to auto investors who have been increasingly downcast in recent weeks," wrote analyst Arndt Ellinghorst of Evercore ISI.
DZ Bank analyst Michael Punzet said the "strong start into 2017 underpins our positive view on Daimler".
EBIT at the Mercedes-Benz Cars unit rose 60 percent to 2.23 billion euros, delivering a return on sales of 9.8 percent after the division reported a 15 percent rise in first-quarter sales.
In March alone, sales of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class surged by 65 percent.
The Stuttgart-based carmaker's earnings surge came as rival BMW (BMWG.DE) said sales of its luxury branded vehicles had risen 5.2 percent to a new record, while Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) said first-quarter passenger car registrations were down 1.3 percent.
In late March, Daimler had said it expected record sales volumes for its Mercedes-Benz Cars division in the first quarter.
(Editing by Georgina Prodhan and David Holmes)