Chrysler Group today reported preliminary profits of $473 million for Q1 2012, up more than 300% from $116 million a year ago. The return was 4.5% on revenue of $16.4 billion, relatively weak because it reflects the enormous costs required to revamp the product line. Global Vehicle sales increased 33% to 523,000 in the quarter, up 25% from 485,000 a year ago. Sales outside of North America increased 80% to 67,000 vehicles.
It was the strongest quarter since Q3 of 1998 when Chrysler made $682 million, and was primarily the result of a 39% increase in U.S. sales to 398,000, although fleet sales made up 31% of the total. U.S. market share increased to 11.2% for the first quarter, up from 9.2%. For the first time in its history, Chrysler was the quarterly market leader in Canada with a share of 15%.
“I have really no bad news to tell you,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler Group. “We continue to focus on new product launches, and 2012 is the weakest year for new products. The big one is 2013.”
Chrysler Group achieved its third and final U.S. Treasury Department performance goal under the terms of the $12.5 billion bankruptcy loans in January 2012 by committing to produce the fuel-efficient Dodge Dart from an Alfa Romeo platform. Fiat S.p.A.’s ownership of Chrysler is now 58.5%, with union health care trusts (VEBA) holding the balance. Marchionne said that Chrysler has no intention to purchase VEBA equity. Treasury has written off $1.3 billion of U.S. taxpayer money after $11.2 billion of the bankruptcy loan was repaid.