Washington — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Tuesday its net profit increased by 50 percent from a year ago to a record 910 million euros ($1.07 billion) on strong results in North America, as well as from its luxury Maserati brand.
The Italian-American automaker said adjusted pre-tax earnings of 1.758 billion euros ($2.06 billion) rose 25 percent from a year ago and were a record for the quarter, largely driven by the luxury brand Maserati’s performance and global sales growth. A year ago, FCA earned 1.5 billion euros ($1.76 billion) in the three-month period on revenue of 26.8 billion euros.
“Despite lower industry and company sales, Fiat Chrysler showed significant earnings improvement for the third quarter, a trend as of late,” David Kudla, CEO of Grand Blanc-based Mainstay Capital Management LLC, wrote in a note. “It would seem the company is taking a more disciplined approach which is benefiting the bottom line.”
The automaker said its net industrial debt increased by 179 million euros ($210 million) from the second quarter of the year, which the company attributed to “negative foreign exchange translation effects.” FCA said its cash flows from operations improved by 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) from 2016.
CEO Sergio Marchionne said the company is on track to meet financial goals it is pushing to reach by 2018. And it’s preparing to launch three new vehicles by the beginning of the year.
“We’ve got three project launches coming in the next 90 days,” he said in a conference call with investors and financial analysts. “If you add up the sum of all those products in a fully annualized basis, you’re talking about over a million cars that are being launched between now and Jan. 2018. I think flawless execution of that plan will pretty well guarantee that we deliver ‘18.”
Shares of FCA rose strongly on the third-quarter results, closing Tuesday at $17.38, up nearly 5.5 percent. Marchionne expressed optimism about the automaker’s financial performance so far this year.
“I think we’re in good shape,” he said. “Certainly I can tell you that if we launch properly in Q1 of 2018, by the second quarter of next year, barring any sort of instability events in the system, we should be able to confirm and pretty well guarantee delivery of ’18.”
Fiat Chrysler’s results came as General Motors Co. posted a $2.98 billion loss in the third quarter of 2017 on Tuesday.
In North America, FCA reported revenue fell by about 6 percent to 16.2 billion euros ($18.8 billion) on 35,000 fewer vehicle shipments from the same three months a year ago. Profitability for the region was aided with lower costs, reduced fleet sales and stronger mix of more profitable vehicles.
In Latin America, revenue rose by about 42 percent to 2.1 billion euros ($2.4 billion) on 29,000 more vehicle shipments from the third quarter of 2016. FCA said the increase in shipments in Latin America was driven by the introduction of its Fiat Argo and Jeep Compass, as well as Fiat Mobi, in markets there.
In Asia-Pacific, revenue fell by about 10 percent to 782 million euros ($919 million), despite an increase of 5,000 vehicle shipments. FCA said its net revenues decrease in the Asian region occurred “primarily as a result of lower parts and components sales, as well as negative foreign exchange translation effects.”
FCA has reportedly been considering options to spin off the upscale Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands, but Marchionne said Tuesday that a goal for the Maserati brand to reach $1 billion in earnings before taxes is in reach after the luxury brand posted pre-tax earnings of 113 million euros ($133 million) in the three months period between July and September.
“It needs another car,” Marchionne said of the $1 billion pre-tax earnings goal for Maserati. “It needs a smarter SUV than it has today. I think we’ve already invested in the architecture for the Alfa Romeo venture so that’s probably coming by 2020 and I think we’ll be in good shape to hit the billion then.”