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Daimler CEO Zetsche bounces back from rough start to year with strong fourth quarter

Automaker Daimler AG finished 2013 strongly after a rough start to the year that included a profit warning.

Net profit fell 36 percent to 1.68 billion euros ($2.27 billion), reflecting a one-time gain in the fourth quarter of 2012 of 709 million euros from the sale of a stake in aerospace company EADS.

With the sale excluded, the company said Thursday that operating earnings jumped 45 percent to 2.53 billion from 1.74 billion.

Revenues increased 8 percent to 32.09 billion with sales up for its small vehicles. The company also introduced a new version of its flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedan.

The year included an April profit warning, and CEO Dieter Zetsche saw his contract renewed for only three years — a signal he needed to turn things around.