German carmaker Daimler
Shares in the German carmaker had fallen by 3.6 percent by 1040 GMT, despite Daimler surprising markets with a higher-than-anticipated dividend payout for 2010.
Daimler's below-forecast results follow sobering news from lower-margin French mass market players Renault
The news is mixed. You have good data for free cash flow and a great outlook. But the problem is that the fourth-quarter results, particularly those for the Mercedes-Benz and Financial Services divisions, slightly missed estimates, Aleksej Wunrau, an analyst at BHF Bank, said.
Daimler posted fourth-quarter earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of 1.56 billion euros ($2.1 billion), compared with a forecast for 2.05 billion in a Reuters poll.
The dividend was set at 1.85 euros, compared with a forecast for 1.75 euros.
The question is whether this was due to one-off effects or whether that has to be factored into future earnings too, BHF Bank's Wunrau added.
Daimler, which ditched its dividend last year, predicted a considerable gain in earnings this year on better sales of its Mercedes premium cars and a turnaround at its industry-leading trucks business.
The company said 2011 earnings before interest and tax would be significantly above last year's figure, having previously said 2011 would be a very good year thanks to strong Chinese demand for Mercedes-Benz saloons.
But analysts were disappointed not to get more detail.
(guidance) ... was light versus the level of detail that the market had wanted to see. We were looking for north of 9 billion euros in terms of full year 2011 EBIT guidance, Credit Suisse analyst David Arnold said.
Daimler raised its outlook three times last year, most recently forecasting in October that group EBIT would top 7 billion euros for 2010.
Daimler, which recently celebrated the 125th anniversary of Carl Benz inventing the modern automobile, is the first German carmaker to report 2010 results, ahead of BMW
The company's research and development spending was almost 15 percent higher in 2010 than a year earlier, with a 400 million euros increase at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division alone.
(Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz, Ludwig Burger and Helen Massy-Beresford; Writing by Alexander Smith; Editing by Dan Lalor and Hans Peters)
($1 = 0.7406 euro)