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Mercedes says 'top-end' luxury models power strong first quarter results

German luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz (MBG.DE) released strong first quarter global results on Friday with the brand noting once again its "top-end" cars powered results.

For the quarter, Mercedes reported global revenue of 37.5 billion euros, or $41.27 billion, up 8% from a year ago, while global EBIT rose 5% to 5.5 billion euros, or $6.05 billion.

Mercedes said its return on sales, or operating profit margin, dipped slightly to 14.8% from 16.4% a year ago. The company's all-important transition to electric vehicles saw the automaker nearly double its EV sales in Q1, with EVs accounting for 10% of the company's sales in the quarter.

Mercedes says it plans to go fully-electric by 2030 with electric versions of all its models rolling out in 2025.

But it was the company's top-end mostly gas-powered models that for the most part drove the big gains. Top-end model sales were up 17.5% globally versus a year ago, with the “core” entry-level model segment dropping 11.3%.

"Our focus on top-end cars and premium vans has made Mercedes-Benz more weatherproof, allowing us to accelerate our digital and electric transformation — even in a period of economic uncertainty," Harald Wilhelm, Mercedes-Benz Group CFO Harald Wilhelm said in a statement.

"Ongoing cost discipline, combined with further key product launches like the all-electric Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV will keep us on track to continue delivering sustainable results."

The Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV
The Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV (Mercedes-Benz)

That Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV, the automaker's most exclusive and highest priced SUV, will be built at the automaker's plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The US remains a top market for Mercedes, where the company said "demand continues to remain on a good level" despite the persistence of macro worries.

In the US, Mercedes reported earlier this month that those top-end segment car sales jumped 18% versus a year ago, with AMG high-performance models up 55%, and G-Class range-topping SUV sales up 40%.

As for other regions, Mercedes reported incoming Q1 orders in Europe remained "sluggish," though the current order bank is enough to support sales in the coming months.

Conversely, China momentum has returned post-Chinese New Year, Mercedes said, "with strong demand and order intake at the end of Q1."

Mercedes's results follow a strong Q1 report from rival Porsche earlier this month, highlighting the continued strength in the luxury segment of the market.

Porsche reported a record 18% sales increase for the quarter driven by strong China sales, with every region the automaker operating in notching a sales increase. Porsche's sister brand Audi, also part of the Volkswagen portfolio, is expected to report results next week.

Mercedes maintained its projection of full-year revenue remaining at last year’s levels, with EBIT "slightly below" last year's performance.

The automaker's ongoing investments in its EV transformation, which will see the company spend $47 billion by 2030, may be weighing on near-term profitability.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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