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Fiat Chrysler Latest to Beat Expectations With Q2 Earnings

Net income up despite hefty consent agreement charge.

by on Jul.30, 2015

FCA is in "execution mode," says Marchionne.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may have begun the third quarter on a sour note, slammed with a record fine for safety lapses, but it ended the second-quarter in fine tune, handily exceeding Wall Street earnings forecasts.

The company, officially registered in the Netherlands, earned a profit of 333 million Euros, or $364 million, even after a chargeback of $88.5 million as a result of the consent order formally announced last weekend. A year ago, FCA earned 197 million Euros, or $215 million, for the period. On a per-share basis, the maker reported earnings of $0.21 between April-June 2015, analysts surveyed by MarketWatch predicting the figure would come in around 19 cents.

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As has been the case for several years, the recovering Chrysler side of the business helped prop up the balance sheet, primarily due to strong demand – and rising prices – in North America. But FCA also saw improvements in a European market just rebounding after a long and deep recession.

“There’s no doubt that we’re pleased with the results of our NAFTA operations,” Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said during a Thursday conference call. “We are in execution mode.”

(For the full story on the FCA settlement with NHTSA, Click Here.)

The maker reported a pre-tax profit of 1.3 billion Euros, or $1.4 billion, in North America. That’s more than double what it delivered a year earlier when the region brought in 595 million Euros, or $650 million. (All figures are based on exchange rates at the end of June 2015. The Euro has slid sharply over the past year.)

North American profit margins surged from 4.9% a year ago to 7.7%. But that still lagged its cross-town rivals Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.  Ford also beat Wall Street estimates when it announced earnings earlier this week, with its home market margins surging to 11%.

The recall of the Ram pickup hit FCA's bottom line and will impact Q3 numbers, as well.

“We’re still far away from where our other two competitors are,” said Marchionne. “We have a long way to go, but I’m encouraged in the direction it has taken.”

In one sense, Europe proved an even bigger success story for FCA during the second quarter. A year ago, it barely broke even. This latest quarter saw a pre-tax profit of 57 million Euros, or $62 million.

Globally, FCA shipped 1.2 million vehicles between April and June. That was in line with its earlier guidance. But the maker is now lowering its full-year forecast to 4.8 million. It previously said the figure could push as high as 5 million. Marchionne isn’t alone here. Toyota also has trimmed its full-year estimate, but that maker – the world’s biggest by sales last year – still expects to deliver more than 10 million vehicles in 2015.

That gap is one reason that FCA CEO Marchionne continues to openly seek a merger or alliance partner. So far, however, his overtures have been rebuffed by several potential targets, including General Motors.

There have been reports that Marchionne was meeting with board members in London today to discuss possible alliance deals. Among other names linked to the trans-Atlantic maker are Peugeot, Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen AG. The latter maker has added a number of brands to its portfolio in recent years, including Porsche and motorcycle brand Ducati. But there has been a long-simmering feud between Marchionne and VW CEO Martin Winterkorn.

While Marchionne said during his call that he had “really no bad news to report,” the maker did see earnings slide in both Asia and Latin America. And its Maserati brand was off by more than half, to 18 million Euros, or $20.1 million, compared to 43 million Euros, or $48.1 million, a year ago.

The Ferrari brand, however, saw earnings jump by 19 million Euros, or $21.3 million, this most recent quarter, to 124 million Euros, or $138.8 million.

Earlier this month, FCA released a long-awaited prospectus outlining its plans to spin off the Ferrari brand. It intends to sell 10% of the iconic automaker and then distribute another 80% to its current shareholders. The remaining 10% stake is held by the son of founder Enzo Ferrari.

(For more on the Ferrari IPO, Click Here.)

Looking forward, a major challenge for FCA will be managing the requirements outlined under the new consent order with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It laid out $105 million in fines and penalties, while also requiring FCA to buyback some troubled truck models and offer trade-in incentives on some older Jeeps. The precise cost of the entire agreement has yet to be released. FCA has 60 days to put the consent order into motion.

(Is your truck or SUV eligible for buyback or a trade-in incentive? Click Here to find out.)

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One Response to “Fiat Chrysler Latest to Beat Expectations With Q2 Earnings”

  1. GT101 says:

    NHTSA will take all of FCA’s profits and more before they are done.