Fiat sales fall short of analysts' expectations

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Photo: Ed Jones/AFP
09:24 CEST+02:00
Italian auto giant Fiat on Monday reported a €31 million ($23 million) net profit in the first quarter, 88.16 percent lower than in the same period in 2012 and short of analysts' expectations, while confirming its objectives for the year as a whole.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones had forecast a net benefit of around €150 million.

Without its US unit Chrysler, Fiat would have remained in the red, the company said in a statement.

Sales in the first quarter of 2013 was €19.8 billion, down 2.0 percent in nominal terms.

The auto giant's net industrial debt increased to €7.1 billion, compared with €6.5 billion at the end of 2012, due to seasonal cash absorption.

The group forecast a net profit for 2013 of between €1.2 billion and €1.5 billion, and confirmed that it expected sales to be in the €88 billion to €92 billion range.

Fiat relies heavily on sales for Chrysler for profitability. It took control of Chrysler in 2009 as the third largest US automaker emerged from a government-financed restructuring under bankruptcy protection.

On Monday, Chrysler Group reported a 65 percent drop in first-quarter profit, citing the cost of new product launches and weaker sales in Europe and Latin America.

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"The best way to look at this is a one-time event. Just close your eyes, plug your nose and move on," said Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and its Italian partner Fiat.

Marchionne is focused on acquiring the remaining 41 percent stake in Chrysler. He said Fiat is keeping plenty of extra cash on hand so it can close the transaction "in short order" once a deal is finalized.

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