Despite a currency shift that hurt the company bottom line, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned a profit of $101.2 million (92 million euros) during the first quarter as revenue grew by 19% and margins improved in both North America and Europe.
FCA earned a profit for the second straight quarter in Europe where it has struggled for several years and made more money in North America, but said its losses in South America deepened.
The company’s profit for the first quarter of this year was an improvement over the $190 million loss that the automaker recorded last year after it recorded a $672-million charge to cover the cost of purchasing shares of Chrysler previously held by the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust.
Revenue for the first quarter of 2015 grew 19% to €26.4 billion, an increase of €4.3 billion from €22.1 billion for first quarter 2014. Higher revenues in North America where revenue grew by 38% were partly offset by decreases in Latin America dropped 21% and Maserati where revenue dropped 19%.
Zack’s Equity Research said the results were in line with expectations of 6 cents a share.
The improvement in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) was €800 million, up €145 million or 22%, due to improved performance in NAFTA and continued progress in EMEA, which posted a positive result for the second consecutive quarter.
The year-over-year results reflect a positive translation impact from the strengthening U.S. dollar, which was offset by negative transactional impacts, primarily the strengthening of the U.S. dollar on NAFTA vehicles and components supplied to other regions and the weakening of the Canadian Dollar on revenues from sales in Canada.
NAFTA improved by more than €200 million to €601 million driven by higher volumes and improved net pricing, which was partially offset by the negative impacts of the weakened Canadian Dollar and Mexican Peso and increased warranty and recall costs. NAFTA margins improved to 3.7% from 3.2% and excluding the impact of campaign costs were at 5% compared to 3.8% a year ago.
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Adjusted EBIT for Latin America decreased by €109 million resulting in a loss of €65 million. This reflected lower volumes due to the market conditions as well as start-up costs at a new plant in Brazil that is scheduled to build the new Jeep Renegade was only partially offset by favorable pricing.
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Excluding the launch costs for the new Pernambuco plant Latin America would have been at break-even for the quarter. Adjusted EBIT for Asia Pacific decreased by €70 million as a result of lower volumes and unfavorable net pricing, primarily due to foreign exchange effects from Chinese Renminbi, Australian Dollar and Japanese Yen.
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With regards to the adjustments from EBIT to Adjusted EBIT, it should be noted that the Group Adjusted EBIT for Q1 2014 primarily excludes the one-off charge of €495 million in connection with the UAW Memorandum of Understanding entered into by FCA US in January 2014, the effect of the devaluation of the Venezuelan Bolivar of €94 million and the non-taxable gain of €223 million on the fair value re-measurement of the previously exercised options in connection with the acquisition of FCA US. There were no such similar one-off charges in the current quarter.