Maserati helps drive record Fiat Chrysler Q1 profit

LUMINOSITY ITALIA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) registered a record €1.535 billion operating profit in the first quarter of the year, an 11 percent increase over the same period in 2016, on revenues of €27.7 billion.

Strong sales in Europe fueled the increase as North America reported flat revenues and profit.

Revenues in Europe rose 12 percent to €5.6 billion with high-performance luxury brand Maserati generating sales of €949 million, almost double the €508 million in the same quarter of 2016, mostly due to the performance of its SUV Levante.
English news: Fiat sales
European sales of the high-profit Maserati SUV Levante buoyed FCA in a quarter that saw poor performance by the carmaker’s star brand Jeep.

FCI Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer described the first three months of the year as “a good start to 2017” while financial advisory firm Evercore ISI wrote that the quarter was “potentially troublesome” for FCA due to “weak U.S. sales and a model changeover at Jeep” but the results show the carmaker’s ability to improve earnings “even on lower volumes and in a more competitive end market.”

Iconic Italian brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati were credited with helping drive growth, with their combined sales for the year now targeted at 230,000 units due to the market reception of the Stelvio, Giulia and Levante models.

CEO Sergio Marchionne said the company is projected have net revenues between €115 and €120 billion this year, resulting in net profit more than €3 billion.

Like other automakers FCA faces declining sedan sales in markets that are buying more SUVs and pickups. It discontinued the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 small sedans last year, while its star brand Jeep, in the midst of model reshuffle, saw sales drop 11 percent in the first quarter. Industry experts expect that to change as newly retooled models hit showrooms.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with Autotrader, said FCA is making the right moves. “The market wants SUVs right now far more than cars. It is (investing) its money in the right place.”