Daimler on "very good track" to hit 2016 profit goal -CEO

HAMBURG, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Daimler expects to hit targets for a small increase in earnings this year, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said, counting on “profitable growth” at its flagship luxury cars division.

Daimler has forecast the group’s adjusted full-year operating profit (EBIT) to slightly beat 2015 levels, with higher earnings at Mercedes-Benz cars, vans and bus operations seen offsetting a decline in trucks.

Sales of Mercedes-Benz branded cars jumped 12 percent in September to 211,286 vehicles, the unit’s best-ever monthly result, with nine-month deliveries up by the same margin to a record 1.54 million.

“We are on a very good track,” Zetsche told a gathering of reporters in Hamburg late on Tuesday. “I can confirm that our guidance is valid.”

Mercedes-Benz is “within reach” of its goal to become the leading premium automaker in terms of volume and profitability by 2020, Zetsche said, as the Stuttgart-based manufacturer looks set to outsell German rivals BMW and Audi this year. (Reporting by Jan Schwartz. Writing by Andreas Cremer.; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)