FCA reports record Q1 earnings

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported record first-quarter earnings that climbed 59 percent, due largely to strong Jeep sales worldwide.

The company said Thursday the it grew its profit to $1.24 billion (1.02 billion euros), and achieved a 7.4 percent adjusted earnings before taxes and interest margin in North America, a 10-point jump compared to a year ago.

The company said its bottom line was helped by lower financial charges and income taxes.

The results come after CEO Sergio Marchionne said in January that the company’s net profit nearly doubled for 2017, and that FCA will top Ford Motor Co.’s earnings before he retires in April 2019. Ford Motor Co. reported Wednesday afternoon that it made $1.7 billion in the first quarter, and would drive earnings starting in 2019 by cutting operational costs and all of its sedan models.

Marchionne cut FCA’s low-margin car models roughly two years ago. And he’s on a victory lap now. Marchionne is scheduled in June to announce the company’s business plan for the next four years.

The company said Thursday it cut its net industrial debt to $1.58 billion (1.3 billion euro) as the company moves to erase that debt by June 1. That’s nearly $1.33 billion (1.1 billion euros) less than in reported in December 2017.

First-quarter 2018 net revenue climbed 2 percent to $32.9 billion (27 billion euros), delivering earnings of 79 cents (.65 euros) per share. The company made $1.48 billion (1.21 billion euros) in North America on $19.9 billion (16.4 billion euros) in revenue, a 14 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago.

The company reported positive earnings before interest and taxes in Latin American, Asia and Europe, earning $221 million (182 million euros) from its European business.

FCA is forecasting a project net revenue of $155 billion (125 billion euros) for 2018. That’s down from an earlier forecast of about $169 billion (136 billion euros). The company projects an adjustment pre-tax earnings figure of nearly $10.8 billion (8.7 billion euros).

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau