Chrysler Group reported that its net profits have quadrupled in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the first quarter of 2011, for a total of $473 million. It was the company’s largest quarterly profit in 13 years. It is another strong indication that the post-bailout automotive industry is heartily rebounding.
Steepest gain of any automaker
Chrysler’s sales were up by 40 percent in the U.S. alone, the steepest such gain of any automaker. The company’s market share rose from 9.2 percent at the end of Q1, 2011 to its current 11.2 percent. Its revenue went up by a quarter to $16.4 billion.
Bolstered by the numbers, Chrysler repeated its hopes to post a net income of $1.5 billion by the end of the year.
Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne made a pun in a recent upbeat conference call with auto industry analysts:
“Chrysler is firing on all cylinders. Absolutely positive … I have no bad news to tell you.”
Not just a domestic success
Its success was not just in the U.S. Chrysler also soared ahead of its competition to the north by becoming the top-selling automaker in Canada for the first time in its history.
Chrysler’s international sales in general were up by 80 percent. The automaker moved 523,000 units globally since the beginning of the year. That is 33 percent more than at this time last year.
Targeting the Dart
“Another positive quarter — built on sales gains that have surpassed the industry average — is affirmation that the Chrysler team is maintaining its focus. We continue to deliver on the targets in our five-year plan and are now focused on successfully launching the Dodge Dart, a car that is a true melding of Chrysler’s and Fiat’s engineering and styling strengths.”
In February, Marchionne said Chrysler plans to add 1,800 workers to its Illinois plant, where the new compact Dodge Dart will be built. Chrysler has not had a successful compact model since the Neon in the mid-1990s.
At the end of the Great Recession, Chrysler was restructured under a government-sponsored bankruptcy. The federal government sold its shares of the company in 2011. Today, Fiat SpA owns nearly 60 percent of the U.S. automaker. Thanks to Chrysler’s successful quarter, Fiat’s first-quarter profit more-than tripled, to $137 million, up from $38 million in 2011.
Fiat lost $274 million in sales for the quarter in economically troubled Europe. Ironically, Chrysler is now the only thing keeping the Italian automaker profitable, only a few years after it stepped up to keep Chrysler from closing its doors.