Fiat Chrysler plans $1.1B inaugural dividend payout

Craig Trudell
In this Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 file photo, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCA logo is shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the automaker on the verge of paying a regular dividend for the first time, said it’s planning a roughly 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) initial distribution to shareholders.

The Italian-American carmaker’s board will recommend a dividend of 0.65 euros (74 cents) per common share, according to a company statement. Shareholders will vote on the proposal at Fiat Chrysler’s annual meeting scheduled for April 12.

The follow-through on the dividend may be a welcome development for investors, who’ve been disappointed by Fiat Chrysler’s earnings under Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley. He took over in July from an ailing Sergio Marchionne and has been struggling with issues left over from his predecessor’s reign, plus new challenges that have emerged on his watch.

Higher-than expected costs have dragged on North American results, and Fiat Chrysler issued a 2019 profit projection that trailed analysts’ estimates. China’s auto market has weakened substantially, and Manley said earlier this month he was open to collaborating with other carmakers in Europe to try to rescue falling sales and shrinking margins.

Fiat Chrysler announced in October it would pay an extraordinary dividend of 2 billion euros linked to the sale of its auto-parts unit Magneti Marelli to to KKR & Co.’s Calsonic Kansei.