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S&P ändert Daimler-Ausblick in "stabil" und bestätigt Ratings

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Dioxin – 8. Oktober 2008 – 18:53

DJ S&P ändert Daimler-Ausblick in "stabil" und bestätigt Ratings

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (S&P) hat den Ausblick für die Bonitätseinstufung der Daimler AG auf "stabil" von "positiv" revidiert. Darüber hinaus bestätigte die Ratingagentur am Mittwoch die "A-/A-2"-Lang- und Kurzfrist-Ratings für den Stuttgarter Automobilhersteller.

Die Ausblick-Änderung reflektiere die rasche Abschwächung der meisten globalen Automärkte, führte S&P-Analystin Maria Bissinger aus. Dies mache eine Rating-Heraufstufung in den kommenden zwölf bis 18 Monaten zunehmend unwahrscheinlich.

S&P verwies zudem darauf, dass die Ausblick-Änderung nicht mit den Drittquartalsergebnissen in Zusammenhang steht.

Webseite: http://www.standardandpoors.com

DJG/brb/cbr -0-

In view of this environment, Mercedes-Benz Cars' (MBC) ambitious EBIT margin target of 10% in 2010 has become more challenging since the company reduced its full-year 2008 guidance to an EBIT margin of 8%. MBC generated EBIT of EUR2.4 billion in the first half of 2008, representing a profit margin of 9.3%. In the second half, we expect MBC's profitability to be dampened by high raw material prices, negative exchange-rate effects, and slight model-mix deterioration resulting from the aging of the E-Class. To address the weakening global demand as a result of deteriorating consumer confidence, the company has announced production cuts for the second half of 2008.

The ratings continue to reflect the broad product and geographic scope of the group's operations and the progress it has made since the separation of the Chrysler LLC (CCC+/Negative/--) unit in 2007. The ratings also reflect the turnaround in recent years at MBC, which enjoys a leading share of the global luxury vehicle market and a premium position in the automotive industry.

In addition, the ratings reflect the strength of the group's truck division, which benefits from geographic diversity of sales and broadly diversified production. Nevertheless, the North American and Japanese truck markets remain in a cyclical decline, although revenues in the European markets are still growing. This led to a 7% increase in Daimler Trucks' revenues in the second quarter of 2008, while EBIT generation remained largely stable, at EUR608 million. We expect full-year 2008 Daimler Trucks' EBIT to be about the same as that in 2007. However, we expect the truck industry environment overall to cool in 2009, which could lead to a heightened risk of slight overcapacity.

Daimler Financial Services expects to continue harmonizing global products and processes this year, which should have a positive effect on earnings in the medium term. In the near term, however, set-up costs for a separate financial services organization in North America, economic challenges, and interest rate volatility are expected to dampen earnings.

The group's financial ratios (after captive finance adjustments) are strong for the ratings, and there is leeway to accommodate a cooling of the economy or any other drain on cash flows before the ratings become pressured. On the other hand, Daimler has yet to establish a track record of sustaining strong ratios compared with the significantly weaker financials of recent years, before Chrysler was separated from the group.

The short-term rating on Daimler is 'A-2'. The company's financial flexibility and liquidity are strong.

As is common in the industry, Daimler Financial Services has substantial ongoing funding needs. Its asset composition is highly liquid; still, it could be difficult to curtail underwriting activity in a stress scenario, given the need to support the marketing function of the group's industrial units. The financial services' operations are financed at matching maturities, and the company does not allow a maturity mismatch.

The outlook is stable, reflecting the group's strong liquidity, solid share in the premium segment of the automotive industry, and its leading position in the global truck industry. The ratings factor in Daimler's strong financial risk profile and its commitment to retain a conservative financial policy.

We could revise the outlook to negative or lower the rating if the group's core operations be unable to withstand adverse market conditions to maintain strong financials and overcome the volatility in financial performance displayed in past years. A positive outlook or rating upgrade would require MBC to demonstrate resilience to challenging market conditions, especially in North America--but also in Europe and some emerging markets. A sustainable improvement in Daimler Trucks' cost structures, suitable to stabilize earnings despite cyclical downturns of individual heavy-truck markets, would also be a requirement for an outlook change.

Ratings information is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect, the real-time Web-based source for Standard & Poor's credit ratings, research, and risk analysis, at www.ratingsdirect.com. It can also be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site at www.standardandpoors.com; select your preferred country or region, then Ratings in the left navigation bar, followed by Credit Ratings Search. Alternatively, call one of the following Standard & Poor's numbers: Client Support Europe (44) 20-7176-7176; London Press Office (44) 20-7176-3605; Paris (33) 1-4420-6708; Frankfurt (49) 69-33-999-225; Stockholm 46) 8-440-5914; or Moscow (7) 495-783-4017. Primary Credit Analyst: Maria Bissinger, Frankfurt (49) 69-33-999-120;

maria_bissinger@standardandpoors.com Secondary Credit Analyst: Werner Staeblein, Frankfurt (49) 69-33-999-130;

werner_staeblein@standardandpoors.com Additional Contact: Industrial Ratings Europe;

CorporateFinanceEurope@standardandpoors.com Analytic services provided by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (" Ratings Services ") are the result of separate activities designed to preserve the independence and objectivity of ratings opinions. The credit ratings and observations contained herein are solely statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, hold, or sell any securities or make any other investment decisions. Accordingly, any user of the information contained herein should not rely on any credit rating or other opinion contained herein in making any investment decision. Ratings are based on information received by Ratings Services. Other divisions of Standard & Poor's may have information that is not available to Ratings Services. Standard & Poor's has established policies and procedures to maintain the confidentiality of non-public information received during the ratings process. Ratings Services receives compensation for its ratings. Such compensation is normally paid either by the issuers of such securities or third parties participating in marketing the securities. While Standard & Poor's reserves the right to disseminate the rating, it receives no payment for doing so, except for subscriptions to its publications. Additional information about our ratings fees is available at www.standardandpoors.com/usratingsfees. Copyright (c) 2008, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services

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October 08, 2008 13:53 ET (17:53 GMT)

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