Mercedes-Benz Group AG. achieved strong second-quarter financial results, thanks to sustained demand for luxury vehicles and premium vans, a good model mix, enhanced pricing power and ongoing cost discipline. As a result, the adjusted Return on Sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars rose to 14.2% in the quarter and reached 10.1% at Mercedes-Benz Vans, despite the COVID lockdowns, the ongoing semiconductor supply-chain bottlenecks and war in Ukraine.
Group revenue rose by 7% to €36.4 billion (Q2 2021: €34.1 billion) and adjusted EBIT increased by 8% to €4.9 billion (Q2 2021: €4.6 billion) as the company’s focus on Top-End Luxury vehicles, battery electric vehicles (BEV) and premium vans as well as a relentless focus on costs, helped to offset lower sales and higher raw material costs.
In the wake of heightened geopolitical tensions following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Mercedes-Benz has sought to safeguard supply chains and to maximise the potential for reducing or substituting the use of natural gas in vehicle production. For example, Mercedes-Benz has established that in Sindelfingen, where the EQS, S-Class and Mercedes-Maybach are produced, the paint shop could operate without gas supply in an emergency mode.
Mercedes-Benz sees a gas reduction potential of around 50% in Germany without impact if regional pooling is possible. The company’s long-term goal is to switch from gas to electricity and other renewable energy sources.
In addition to making Mercedes-Benz more weatherproof against geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds, the company continues to transform at full speed towards an all-electric future. For example: in June, the Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX beat its own efficiency record and drove more than 1,200 kilometres on a single charge under real-world conditions.
The EQS SUV was presented and the EQE was launched in the market. And that’s after Mercedes-Benz, in consultation with its employee representatives, recalibrated its European production network for passenger cars to manufacture its reshaped product portfolio focused on luxury electric vehicles.
The geopolitical and macroeconomic conditions continue to be characterised by an exceptional degree of uncertainty, including the war in Ukraine, its impacts on supply chains, and the development of prices for raw materials and energy. Further effects due to the rapidly changing situation in Russia and Ukraine are not currently known but could possibly have substantial negative consequences for business activities, should it escalate beyond its current state.
In addition, the continued very high inflationary pressure for consumers and companies and the associated central bank increases in interest rates as well as ongoing bottlenecks in global supply chains make the outlook more difficult. Not least the further course of the pandemic, in particular in China, holds uncertainties for the expected development of the market.
Despite the macro risks, Mercedes-Benz continues to see healthy and high quality demand for its products for the second half of the year, in all core markets. Order books are solid and healthy demand is driven by a strong product portfolio which is further developing during the course of the year. Demand is seen remaining higher than supply.
Mercedes-Benz Cars continues to expect a slight sales increase. Pricing and mix are expected to remain on a high level, with top-end vehicle sales growth seen at more than 10% year-on-year.
Between January and June, Mercedes-Benz Cars achieved an adjusted Return on Sales of around 15%. For the second half of the year, it is the ambition of the company to continue with this run rate, using the levers at its disposal on top-line and cost. However, material costs, higher research and development expenses and effects from the used car business are assumed to result in a negative effect of around 2 RoS points versus the H1 run rate, in the second half of 2022.
Taking into account further potential market environment headwinds related to macro uncertainties, the company’s guidance for adjusted RoS for Mercedes-Benz Cars for the full-year is now at 12%-14%, rather than the 11.5% and 13% seen earlier. The target is to continue to compensate such risks through net pricing.
The cash conversion rate for Cars remains unchanged at between 0.8 to 1.0. Research and development spending is now expected to be “significantly above” the prior-year level, mainly due to the development of the MMA and AMG.EA platforms. Investments in property, plants & equipment are now expected to be “significantly below” the prior-year level, rather than “at the prior-year level.”
Sales are expected to remain “slightly above” the 2021 level and the adjusted Return on Sales is expected to remain at 8% to 10%. Investments in property, plants and equipment and research and development are expected to remain “significantly above” prior-year levels due to spending to upgrade existing combustion engine platforms and to develop the electric VAN.EA platform.
The adjusted Return on Equity is seen in the range of 16% to 18%. Negative effects on EBIT are expected due to higher refinancing costs and lower contract volumes. Furthermore, the cost of credit risk is expected to trend towards its long-term average level.
Revenue this year is now seen “significantly above” the 2021 level, up from a previously expected “slightly above.” EBIT is now seen “slightly above” the prior-year level, rather than “at the prior-year level.” Free cash flow from the industrial business is now expected to be “at the prior-year level”, from a previously expected “slightly below” the 2021 level.