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Analysts predict first-quarter loss at Fiat

Posted Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009, 11:59 am in Employee News

Analysts are predicting that the Fiat Group’s first-quarter financial results will show a 70-million euro ($90.5 million) trading loss compared with 766-million euro ($990 million) profit a year earlier, the Automotive News reported.

Fiat Group Automobiles will swing to a 110-million euro ($142 million) trading loss from a 193-million euro ($249 million) profit in the same period a year ago, according to a confidential analysts survey carried out by the company, which was obtained by Automotive News Europe. Fiat, facing a U.S. government deadline of April 30 deadline to form a partnership with U.S. automaker Chrysler LLC, is scheduled to announce its first quarter results on Thursday.

Fiat group has reported trading profits since the second quarter of 2004, the publication said. Fiat Group Automobiles had been profitable since the fourth quarter of 2005, the article said.

Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne had already warned last week that the first quarter was going to be “the worst of the year” for the Italian group, which includes the Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia car brands, Iveco trucks and CaseNewHolland agricultural equipment unit, the story said. (Automotive News)
 

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Fiat reports $536 million loss

Fiat reports $536 million loss as sales slump 25%


April 23, 2009

Fiat swung to a first-quarter loss of 411 million euros ($536 million), as revenue dropped 25% to 11.3 billion euros. The sales drop was most notable in construction equipment and trucks, the company said, while market declines for automobiles and agricultural equipment "were more contained." It did see an improvement through the rest of the year and expects a profit over 100 million euros while demand for its products will drop around 20%. It said final terms on an alliance with Chrysler continue to be negotiated with the U.S. Treasury and other stakeholders. If negotiations are successful, final terms will be set on or before April 30.
 

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Fiat Faces Chrysler Deadline

PREVIEW:Fiat Faces Nervous Week Ahead Of Chrysler Deadline

April 23, 2009

Fiat SpA has enough wayward offspring to support without Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne trying to persuade investors Thursday that he can add Chrysler LLC to the brood by an April 30 deadline set by the U.S. government.

The Italian group is already bailing out its CNH Global NV (CNH) farm equipment business, while the Iveco trucks and core Fiat Auto units are wading through a global slump in demand, although the latter's lineup of smaller and environmentally-friendly models has seen it fare better than most rivals.

Marchionne, who will present Fiat's first-quarter results Thursday, has just eight days to nail a revised pact with Chrysler and its Cerberus Capital Management parent amid brinksmanship by labor, creditors and the Obama administration that could yet push the third-largest U.S. auto maker into bankruptcy and possible liquidation.

The Italian company has long sought access to the U.S. market, despite a disastrous flirtation with General Motors Co. (GM) earlier in the decade. Access to the U.S. would move it towards the scale that Marchionne believes will consolidate the global auto industry into five or six groups. But Fiat's $9.6 billion debt and a credit rating teetering on the edge of junk status limit its flexibility to persuade the U.S. auto task force that it can rescue Chrysler.

The Fiat-Chrysler "framework" deal announced earlier in April, just days after the task force rejected the plan first outlined in January, remains sketchy at best. Both companies have been guilty of flip-flopping on how it might be structured, as well as the size and scope of Fiat's financial commitment.

Marchionne, who once insisted he wasn't aiming to run Chrysler, could end up doing just that. Chrysler also had to reverse a statement that Fiat would take on part of its liabilities, a near-impossible situation given Fiat's own balance sheet pressures.

Fiat has yet to clarify the financial cost of taking an initial 20% stake in Chrysler, though Dow Jones Newswires revealed this month that retooling two U.S. plants to produce its 500 car and an Alfa Romeo model could reach $1 billion, according to an industry expert.

Chrysler and its stakeholders have been doing themselves no favors, with employee representatives and creditors both engaged in brinksmanship that could drive Fiat away, never mind the auto task force.

Marchionne was in the U.S. last week. Since then, Chrysler's labor talks have stalled in Canada, while a group of large creditors rejected a request from the U.S. Treasury to accept what would be, for them, more onerous terms.

The grip held on Fiat by the controlling Agnelli family means that Marchionne is unlikely to face too rough a ride at Thursday's board meeting, unless the ticking clock that is Chrysler becomes viewed more as a time bomb for the balance sheet than a once-in-a-generation opportunity to crack the U.S. market and stay on the global stage.

Chrysler needs Fiat for its survival; the Italians have a choice, with speculation about a Franco-Italian alliance involving Renault S.A. (RNO.FR) or PSA Peugeot Citroen (UG.FR) continuing to swirl.

In the quest to be part of the global elite, the proposal to take an initial 20% stake in Chrysler for no cash remains a neat one. But only so long as Fiat can make payment in kind - with small-car technology and management expertise, as well as reciprocal distribution - rather than cash. Remaking Chrysler plants to produce Fiats and Alfa Romeos will require cash, as will repaying the $10 billion government loan - including $6 billion it hopes to be approved by next week. Moreover, it will not be able to boost its stake in Chrysler until the loans have been repaid.

Marchionne has made a variety of statements over the past week about the health of the Chrysler talks. He threatened to walk away from the deal if the Canadian Auto Workers' union kept fighting demands to reduce employee benefits. Later that day he said the merger could still be accomplished.

Investors will be looking for more certainty from Marchionne in the first- quarter report and conference call, after having pushed Fiat's shares almost 45% higher since the start of the year, a performance that trails only Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor among the global auto elite.

Fiat's stock enjoys a premium to the sector, helped in part by the ability of its CNH subsidiary - which also reports Thursday - to access the capital markets once more. Just as well, since Fiat is chasing repayment of inter-company loans to help its own balance sheet.

The auto segment's performance during March in Brazil and particularly western Europe, where sales rose 13.8% in April versus an 8% sector decline, have also helped buff Fiat's shine.

Analysts still remain skeptical about the group's full-year targets - a rarity in the sector - for an operating profit in excess of EUR1 billion.

Marchionne has nine months to prove them wrong, but he doesn't even have nine days to make Chrysler a reality.


LINK:PREVIEW:Fiat Faces Nervous Week Ahead Of Chrysler Deadline
 
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