Fiat Chrysler Earnings Slide 40%

Major product realignment set to take place.

by on Jan.27, 2016

Jeep was one of the few real bright spots for Fiat Chrysler last year, especially in the US.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles fourth quarter earnings tumbled by 40%, to $2.2 billion, during the fourth quarter, and for the full-year – a decline would have been even more severe without the contribution of exotic sports carmaker Ferrari, which FCA recently spun off.

The automaker’s results were hammered by slowing global sales, especially in both Latin America, though it did finally get its Jeep brand back into contention with the opening of a new assembly plant in China. And Jeep again scored well in the U.S. where plunging oil prices have spurred a surge in demand for utility vehicles.

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The earnings report was released just hours before FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne was set to reveal a product shake-up designed to adjust to changing global market conditions, including the slowdown in the long-booming Chinese market. Among other things, that is likely to mean a slower ramp-up for the long-struggling Alfa Romeo brand, with more emphasis on Jeep and other truck and utility vehicle lines.

“As part of the NAFTA margin improvement plan,” the company said in a statement, “the group will realign a portion of its capacity in the region to better match market demand.”

Signaling the planned realignment earlier this month, Marchionne stressed that Fiat will still meet the overall, five-year goals outlined in a broad May 2014 strategy briefing, notably including a goal of eliminating the company’s hefty industrial debt.

(Marchionne outlines new road map for FCA during Detroit Auto Show newser. Click Here for the story.)

FCA is scaling back expectations, and rethinking product rollout plans, for Alfa Romeo.

But to meet his original sales target – just over 7 million vehicles by the end of 2018 — FCA would have to drive up demand about 50% from the 4.6 million cars, trucks and crossovers it sold last year. Fiat Chrysler had originally hoped to sell 4.8 million vehicles in 2015.

The Italian-American company reported a fourth-quarter 2015 net profit that was down 40%, to 251 million euros. For the full year, earnings tumbled from 632 million to 377 million euros, or $409 million.

Net revenues, however, jumped to 113 billion euros, an 18% increase that slightly exceeded the 112 billion analyst consensus figure as reported by FactSet.

The bulk of that was driven by strong demand for Jeep products, especially in the home market. The Chrysler side of the company saw a one-third jump for the full-year, revenues reaching 70 billion euros in North America.

But the maker was hit by the economic problems that have crippled demand in much of Latin America, particularly the continent’s largest market, Brazil. Revenues in the region, where Fiat has traditionally been a strong player, tumbled 25%. And the numbers were down 22% in Asia, as well.

Jeep recently returned to China where it was the first foreign maker to open an assembly plant three decades ago. It exited the market following the break-up of the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler. But China has been showing unexpected weakness after more than a decade of torrid growth, and that’s particularly problematic for the Alfa Romeo brand that, along with Jeep, was expected to be a major catalyst of FCA’s global growth.

(Jeep set to return to the pickup market. Click Here for the latest.)

Set to announce a NAFTA product realignment, CEO Sergio Marchionne remains bullish.

Alfa is expected to now shift its product roll-out strategy to downplay products targeting China and focus more on the U.S. and Europe. On the positive side, FCA was able to benefit from the nascent revival of the European market, where revenue rose 13%.

FCA also saw disappointing results from its Maserati brand, revenues dipping 13% for the year. But 2016 should prove better, the parent company is forecasting, largely due to the upcoming launch of Maserati’s first luxury SUV, the Levante. The high-end ute market has been bursting at the seams, with other luxury players, including Bentley, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and even Rolls-Royce developing entries of their own.

FCA’s revenue and earnings numbers for 2016 will undoubtedly take a hit due to the spin-off of the Ferrari brand. Shares began trading in New York late last year, and on the Milan exchange this month. Ferrari earnings helped buoy FCA’s 2015 results, even though its net profit was down 4% for the year.

Excluding Ferrari’s contribution, FCA’s profit for 2015 would have slipped to just 377 million euros, or $410 million.

For 2016, FCA is expecting to deliver 1.9 billion euros in adjusted net earnings, with net revenues of 110 billion euros.

(Alfa planning mainstream versions of new Giulia sports sedan. Click Here for more.)

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3 Responses to “Fiat Chrysler Earnings Slide 40%”

  1. GT101 says:

    Marchionne’s shell game is just about over. When he sends an unsolicited e-mail to GM executive management begging for GM to buy FCA and then cuts development of 11 new models or updates, you know FCA is cash poor due to Marchionne’s buying spree. Unless someone buys FCA they will continue until they are forced into bankruptcy.

  2. JAE says:

    Agreed

  3. GT101 says:

    They might as well stick a fork in FCA as it’s done… The FCA hourly workers are the ones who will suffer for the irresponsible behavior of executive management such as Marchionne who receives $20 million per year to destroy companies and U.S. jobs. He’ll probably even take a shot at another U.S. tax payer bailout loan before long.

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