Investors and analysts sharply criticised Daimler’s management on Tuesday for its “erratic communication” after the premium carmaker stunned markets with a sudden doubling of its full-year guidance.
The news of the profit forecast and a first-quarter profit of €1.2bn ($1.6bn) – released earlier than expected on Monday night and twice as much as analysts’ average expectation – lifted the German carmaker’s share price by 7 per cent.
Daimler essentially doubled the 2010 operating profit forecast at its Mercedes car unit to €2.5bn-€3bn from its ongoing business.
The positive news pushed the share prices of several other European carmakers higher, as it underscored the sharp demand rebound in the luxury car sector.
Daimler’s strong performance was overshadowed by irritation among analysts and investors.
“Everybody in the market has a better track record in predicting their results than Daimler itself. They have been very erratic in their guidance,” said Philippe Houchois, analyst at UBS. “Investors are assigning a lower price-earnings ratio to such companies.” A manager of one of Germany’s largest institutional investors said: “We are not amused.
“When the profit forecast is being lifted by 100 per cent within several weeks, this is difficult to explain.”
The announcement follows other surprises from Daimler in recent years.
In February, an abrupt decision to axe its dividend caught investors off-guard and spurred criticism that management had failed to prepare markets.
Daimler’s management had to spend a lot of time last month talking to investors and scrambling to explain the decision.
A month ago, Bodo Uebber, Daimler’s chief financial officer, dismissed talk that the forecast was too conservative. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said investors had become too optimistic.
“There are a few market participants who have surged ahead too far from what is happening in the economy,” he said. He also vowed to step up communication with the markets.
Max Warburton, analyst at Sanford Bernstein, noted: “The big issue . . . is whether key information gets to the board and whether divisional management have an accurate handle on weekly and monthly developments in their operations.”
Mr Houchois said the strong operative performance in the first quarter would override all criticism.
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