Borrowing the title of a ‘60s-era counterculture novel, Chrysler executives might say, “Been down so long it looks like up to me,” especially if preliminary estimates hold true on Wednesday. That’s when the long-troubled U.S. maker plans to report its fourth quarter and full 2011 financial figures which – analysts anticipate – could see as much as $2 billion in full-year operating profits.
That would mark the first time Chrysler will have gone into the black for the full year, on an operating basis, since 1997, just before its ill-fated “merger-of-equals” with German’s Daimler AG. Significantly, the announcement of any full-year profit would come as a stark contrast to the situation the maker found itself in less than three years ago, when it was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
On a net basis, the maker went $42 million into the red for the first nine months of 2011 – but that figure includes $551 million in second-quarter charges resulting from CEO Sergio Marchionne’s decision to pay off Chrysler’s federal bailout loans years ahead of schedule. Even with those charges, the smallest of the Detroit makers is expected to land in the black for the full year.