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Daimler just reported its best-ever annual sales, revenue and profit for 2016, as its Mercedes-Benz brand overtook BMW to be the leader of luxury by car sales.

The Stuttgart-based company recorded a 5 per cent rise in total sales – including trucks, vans and other units – to 3m, inking a slight rise in net profit to €8.8bn.

Daimler said it sees “slight growth” in unit sales, revenue and earnings for 2017, citing its “very attractive and competitive product range” led by its E-Class models.

“What is just as important is that in the best year in our company’s history so far, we also initiated the biggest-ever transformation at Daimler,” said Dieter Zetsche, chief executive.

He added:

We have set our course in the direction of electric mobility and are establishing a new culture of cooperation together with our workforce. Those who wish to shape the future of the automobile at the forefront of the automotive industry need both financial strength and innovative skill.

The group proposed a dividend of €3.25 per share, unchanged from a year ago, which will amount to a €3.477bn pay-out and a 40.8 per cent ratio based on net profit.

Daimler projected that worldwide demand for cars in general will rise 1 to 2 per cent this year. China could be a wildcard after tax incentives for small-engine cars are reduced.

“In the automotive business, we met our targets for return on sales once again last year,” said Bodo Uebber, finance chief. “And we are confident that we will be able to improve on these record results once again in 2017.”

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