Luxury carmaker Daimler today cut its profit forecast for the fourth time in 13 months, as it set aside more money to cover a regulatory crackdown on diesel emissions and vehicle recalls related to Takata airbags. 

The German automaker is among a raft of blue-chip firms to issue a profit warning this week.

Its warning added to concerns about the severity of an economic slowdown, particularly in China where confidence has been hit by an ongoing trade war. 

The maker of Mercedes-Benz cars said it would post a second-quarter operating loss and that 2019 results would be "significantly" lower than last year, compared with its previous forecast for a broadly unchanged performance.

It also blamed lower-than-predicted growth in automotive markets, as well as slower product ramp-ups that have affected availability this year. 

Analysts said deteriorating cashflow would make it hard for Daimler to keep paying a high dividend. 

They said that Daimler's dividend would need to be cut to around 50 cents per share, down from €3.25 in 2018. 

The warning is the second since Ola Kaellenius took over from long-standing Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in May.

German carmakers, among global leaders in diesel technology, have been caught in the crosshairs of courts and regulators after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to using engine control devices to cheat US diesel emission tests. 

Daimler's diesel pollution levels are being investigated by prosecutors in Stuttgart, Germany, where it is headquartered, as well as by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

The pressure to clean up combustion engines has come at a time when the industry has to invest heavily in electric and self-driving vehicles, cope with slowing growth in China, weak markets in Europe and a rise in global trade tensions.

Daimler said it expected to take an extra €1.6 billion hit related to "ongoing governmental and court proceedings and measures relating to Mercedes-Benz Diesel vehicles in various regions." 

It did not give further details. 

It also said provisions related to an extended recall connected to Takata airbags would increase by around €1 billion and a review of its Mercedes-Benz vans product portfolio would hit second-quarter earnings by €500m. 

The bankruptcy of Japanese airbag maker Takata has left some carmakers having to shoulder the cost of recalls. Ford took a hit of $775m in 2018 for Takata-related recalls in North America. 

A result of the extra costs, Daimler forecast a second-quarter loss before interest and taxes of €1.6 billion, compared with a €2.6 billion profit in the same period last year. 

Daimler also said its free cash flow for the second quarter would be below the same period last year, and that for the full- year it was no longer be expected to be above that of 2018. 

Daimler's warning came after auto suppliers Johnson Electric Holdings and Sensirion slashed their earnings forecasts this week, blaming a slowdown in car sales and pessimism about the prospects of a Chinese car sector recovery. 

In May, German competitor BMW warned on profits, citing higher than expected investments, while Volkswagen said the return on sales at its passenger cars division would come in at the lower end of its target. 

Sales of Mercedes-Benz cars fell 7% in the first quarter in part due to manufacturing bottlenecks for the A-Class compact car in Aguascalientes, Mexico, the Mercedes-Benz Van in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE sports utility vehicle in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.