Mercedes-Benz issues soft guidance yet shares rise on dividend hike, new buyback policy

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Mercedes-Benz issues soft guidance yet shares rise on dividend hike, new buyback policy
Credit: © Reuters.

Shares of Mercedes-Benz (OTC: MBGAF ) rose nearly 5% in Frankfurt on Thursday after the automotive giant reported financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter and raised its dividend.

For the FQ4, the company saw a 21.5% drop in net profit to €3.16 billion ($3.42 billion), which was still above analysts' expectations of €2.80 billion.

Despite selling fewer cars and vans, quarterly revenue only fell by 1.8% to €40.26 billion, also above the consensus estimates of €39.15 billion.

For the full-year, the group’s revenue went up by 2.1% to €153.22 billion.

Looking into the future, Mercedes anticipates its 2024 group EBIT to be slightly lower than the previous year's €20.46 billion, which itself marked a 3.9% decrease from the year before.

Revenue is expected to remain stable despite geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainties while industrial free cash flow (FCF) is antcipated to be below the last year’s figure of €11.3 billion, the company said.

“The economic situation and automotive markets continue to be characterized by an exceptional degree of uncertainty,” Mercedes said.

“Unexpected developments may arise in particular from geopolitical events and trade policy.”

Simultaneously, Mercedes raised its dividend to €5.30 per share from €5.20 for 2022. Additionally, it announced a new share buyback program worth up to €3 billion, following a €4 billion initiative from the previous year.

The carmaker also intends to adopt a policy that involves distributing its entire annual automotive FCF to shareholders.

This will be done through a 40% dividend payout, with the remaining FCF allocated for share buybacks. This strategy is contingent on obtaining the necessary approvals from the board or shareholders.

“While hopeful investors may have expected a new and improved buy back program, the company’s new policy to pay out all of industrial cash flow (net of any potential small-scale M&A) marks a confident step to improved shareholder returns,” analysts at Bernstein said in a note.

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