FRANKFURT, Germany - First-quarter earnings at DaimlerChrysler AG more than doubled as a strong performance by the company's Mercedes division outweighed widening losses at Chrysler, which the company said Monday it was selling.

The German-American automaker said yesterday that it earned $2.67 billion in the January-to-March period, well above the $1.88 billion forecast of analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Sales fell to $47.96 billion, which was below the $49.63 billion analysts had expected.

Chief financial officer Bodo Uebber said the company, freed from almost $17.5 billion in health-care and pension liabilities associated with Chrysler, would be in much stronger financial shape.

The Chrysler Group - most of which is being sold to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management L.P. in a $7.45 billion deal - lost $1.98 billion before interest and taxes, compared with a profit of $857 million a year earlier.

That loss included $1.2 billion in restructuring charges from the company's plan to cut 13,000 jobs in the United States and Canada and to pare back production. Chrysler had 81,220 workers at the end of March.

Chrysler, of Auburn Hills, Mich., also posted an 8 percent drop in factory shipments to 642,200 vehicles, while sales fell 18 percent to $13.81 billion.

DaimlerChrysler said it expected Chrysler to post a full-year pretax loss of $2.17 billion for 2007, including restructuring costs of $1.35 billion.

However, the company's core Mercedes Car Group returned to profitability in the first quarter, earning $1.07 billion before interest and taxes.