FRANKFURT German carmaker Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) expects to book a non-cash gain in the second quarter after revaluing its 7.5 percent stake in aerospace group EADS EAD.PA to account for a loss of influence.
Quarterly net profit after minorities will be boosted by 1.34 billion euros ($1.7 billion), or 1.25 euros per share, it said on Wednesday.
The revaluation is necessary after EADS shareholders approved sweeping changes in its ownership structure, which finally allows Daimler to exit EADS, a non-core investment burdened by state influence.
Under accounting rules, Daimler's loss of influence now requires it to reclassify the way it carries EADS in its books, in the process forcing it to revalue the stake on the basis of the Airbus parent's current, higher, share price.
"We want to focus on our core business, so we intend to sell our remaining shares in EADS as we have previously announced. No decision has yet been made on exactly when the shares will be sold," Daimler finance chief Bodo Uebber said in a statement.
Sources familiar with the matter said the company was aiming to sell the stake in the second half of the year but didn't want to telegraph its exact plans to the market.
"Daimler's accounting switch and planned sale of its residual EADS stake mean the dividend looks safe for another year," wrote Morgan Stanley in a research note.
Were Daimler to dispose of the stake at exactly the same price as it will soon be valued in its accounts, then Daimler won't reap any additional book profits.
But it will receive the 1.34 billion euros in cash, which in turn can be used to help fund next year's dividend payout, following April's upcoming 2.3 billion euro payout.
The German carmaker originally owned 30 percent of EADS, after transferring the assets of its DASA aerospace division into the newly created European group in 2000.
Daimler has functioned ever since as the public face of German state influence in EADS and any subsequent reduction in its stake had to be closely coordinated with government officials in Berlin, who insisted on maintaining an exact balance in Franco-German interests.
Daimler said its group earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) will enjoy a larger, 2.68 billion euro gain in the second quarter, but only half of that will remain with the group once minorities are included.
The other half of the EBIT gain will be booked by the Dedalus consortium that includes German state-owned bank KfW KFW.UL. Together these investors own another 7.5 percent in EADS, but they had loaned out their voting shares to Daimler in order to preserve the carmaker's influence in EADS until today.
Daimler had been expected to post full-year 2013 EBIT of 7.92 billion euros and net profit of 4.93 billion, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.
Early in December the German carmaker raised over $2 billion in cash from the sale of 61 million shares in EADS - half its equity stake - committing to a six-month lock up period before unloading any more stock.
Shares in EADS closed 3 percent lower on Wednesday to finish the session at 39.67 euros, but they have risen some 45 percent ever since Germany and France thrashed out a new shareholder pact reducing state influence.
(Editing by David Holmes and Elaine Hardcastle)