Stuttgart (dpa) - The car maker Daimler did not do as badly as feared in the second quarter in the corona crisis despite an operating loss of billions.

The loss before interest and taxes was 1.68 billion euros, as the Dax company announced after the market closed based on preliminary figures in Stuttgart. That was just a little more than in the same period of the previous year with a loss of EUR 1.56 billion - at that time, however, the group had to increase the provisions for old diesel loads and Takata airbags worth billions.

Analysts had expected an even higher drop in the operating result between April and the end of June, Daimler itself had already announced red numbers. The market recovery was stronger than expected, it was now said by the Stuttgart, in June there was even a "strong" development. The company's share rose by one percent on the trading platform Tradegate.

"But there is still a lot to do," said Daimler boss Ola Källenius. "We have to continue our systematic efforts to further reduce the company's break-even point by reducing costs and adjusting capacity." Källenius has big plans for the cost structure of the traditional group after taking over the helm from long-time Daimler boss Dietmar Zetsche.

The figures included special charges of 687 million euros in the passenger car and van division for streamlining production and cutting capacities in France, the United States and Mexico. Daimler had to spend an additional 53 million euros on legal proceedings, and the loss-making car sharing joint venture Your Now with BMW also required 105 million euros in special costs. Daimler also spent € 129 million on the current savings program. Adjusted for these factors, the operating loss was EUR 708 million. The vehicle divisions with passenger cars and vans, as well as the trucks and buses, which are also under pressure, were both in red, while financial services, on the other hand, posted some profit.

Daimler was particularly surprised by the inflow of funds from ongoing industrial business - in other words, car and commercial vehicle construction. Here, the group achieved a plus of 685 million euros, analysts had expected billions of dollars in outflows, according to surveys by Daimler. The net liquidity in the industrial business increased compared to the end of March from 9.3 to 9.5 billion euros in the middle of the year. «We have a complex quarter behind us. We made proactive decisions regarding costs and expenses and focused intensively on the management of our working capital, »said Källenius.

Daimler has benefited from the extensive use of measures to maintain liquidity, it said. At the same time, working capital developed favorably with demand. In view of the weeks of production and sales breaks on the world markets, carmakers had also put calls to suppliers on hold and requested short-time work for tens of thousands of employees in order to save the cash registers. When demand picks up again, the stocks empty faster. Financial experts at Daimler had repeatedly criticized the high need for so-called working capital.

Analysts and shareholders keep a keen eye on so-called free cash flow, i.e. the development of freely available means of payment. Ultimately, they provide information about the current financial strength, which is important for existential security in the crisis - but also about the well-being of possible dividends.

This is one of the reasons why Källenius is currently working hard on cost cutting. In November, the Swede, who had been in office for over a year, launched an austerity program that was expected to bring in 1.4 billion euros in annual personnel costs. Personnel manager Wilfried Porth raised the bar again at the weekend: 1.4 billion euros would not be enough, just as the up to 15,000 job cuts were not accepted. Daimler has around 300,000 employees worldwide.

Daimler initially did not provide any information on sales and bottom line profit. The full quarterly results are expected to be released on July 23.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200716-99-822252 / 2