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Daimler AG, the world’s third- largest maker of luxury vehicles, reported a 21 percent increase in third-quarter profit as deliveries of the top-of-the line Mercedes-Benz S-Class more than doubled.

Operating profit rose to 2.79 billion euros ($3.53 billion) from 2.3 billion euros a year earlier, the Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer said in a statement Thursday. The figure beat the 2.56 billion-euro average of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Profit at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division, which also includes the Smart city-car brand, widened to 8.5 percent of revenue from 7.3 percent.

“Our strategy is paying off,” Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in the statement. “We are growing profitably and look to the future with optimism also beyond the full year.”

Mercedes is adding the GT sports car and more luxurious versions of the S-Class like a $1 million six-seat Pullman variant to bolster its high-end image. At the same time, the brand is expanding its lineup of more affordable models, such as the GLA compact sport-utility vehicle, as it seeks to topple Bayerische Motoren Werke AG from the top spot in the luxury-car segment by the end of the decade.

“Mercedes-Benz has a fresh model lineup, which is giving the brand a lot of momentum,” Frank Schwope, an analyst at NordLB in Hanover, Germany, said before the figures were released. “We’ll probably continue to see more profitable quarters through most of next year.”

Daimler stuck to its goal of “significantly” increasing 2014 operating profit, or earnings before interest and taxes from ongoing business, from last year’s 7.9 billion euros on “significant” gains in vehicle deliveries and revenue. The company, which is also the world’s biggest truckmaker, forecast industrial cash flow of significantly more than last year’s 3.2 billion euros.

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