updated 4/28/2005 12:31:18 PM ET 2005-04-28T16:31:18

Automaker DaimlerChrysler AG on Thursday said its first-quarter net profit fell 30 percent from a year ago as sales slid 2 percent, but the company’s performance still beat stock market expectations.

The U.S.-German manufacturer, whose brands include Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler, earned $374 million, or 31 cents per share, compared with $532 million, or 53 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Revenues were down 2 percent to $41.16 billion compared with $41.8 billion in the same period last year for the world’s fifth-largest automaker.

The company said the weaker U.S. dollar, slack worldwide demand for automobiles and higher prices for raw materials contributed to the decrease in profits.

Unit sales of its luxury Mercedes-Benz brand were 7 percent lower than the year before, with 247,000 vehicles sold, while its U.S.-based Chrysler Group saw a drop of 3 percent to 666,700 vehicles.

The company’s commercial vehicles division had sales increase by 43 percent to 179,400 trucks, vans and buses.

The company said that the demand globally for new vehicles is likely to be slower this year than 2004. Demand for commercial vehicles such as trucks could gain in North America, but would likely be down in Europe.

“In general, we expect the highly competitive situation across the entire automotive industry to continue,” the company said.

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