Skidding sales brake Fiat Chrysler profit

Milan (AFP) –


Automaker Fiat Chrysler (FCA) said Friday that it would still meet its annual target of a stable operating profit despite seeing net earnings chopped nearly half in the first three months of this year as sales slid.

Investors appeared to be reassured as the company's shares climbed more than one percent immediately after the announcement of the Italian-US carmaker's first quarter results.

Net profit came in at 508 million euros ($566 million), a drop of nearly 47 percent from the first quarter of last year.

Including car parts maker Magneti Marelli, which Fiat Chrysler just sold to Japan's Calsonic Kansei, net profits came in at 619 million euros, still far below the 778 million euros expected by an analyst consensus calculated by Factset Estimates.

Sales by the company which makes Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Dodge and Ram vehicles, slid 4.8 percent to 24.5 billion euros.

The number of vehicles shipped fell by 14 percent, which the company said was partially the result of an exceptional performance last year selling both new and old versions of the Jeep Wrangler.

Last month chief executive Mike Manley gave investors a heads up to disappointing first quarter results but expressed confidence Fiat Chrysler would meet its 2019 targets.

Those were reconfirmed Friday with a stable operating profit of 6.7 billion euros and a 10 percent decline of earnings per share.