Chrysler Group Q1 Profits Quadruple to $473 Million

Chrysler Group LLC has set a full-year profit target of $1.5 billion based on Q1 earnings of $473 million, up from $116 million a year ago.  In a statement, Chrysler said first quarter

Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said, “It’s fair to say that Chrysler is firing on all cylinders. It’s been a great quarter, and I think that the indications for the remainder of the year are absolutely positive.”

Last year Chrysler posted its first profitable year since the company entered bankruptcy restructuring in 2009.

On Wednesday, Chrysler announced that it will not extend its operating agreement with Ally Financial Inc. (formerly GMAC) when the current contract expires on April 30, 2013.  The automaker is actively looking for another bank to manage its vehicle financing operations. Chrysler reportedly generates approximately $25 billion in vehicle loans annually.

Marchionne has been adamant about not brining Chrysler’s financing operations in-house.  He says the advantage of having an outside financing operation is that “you can’t get stupid, because no one will finance it. If you’re trying to get straight and stop drinking,” he says, “stop hanging around the bar.”

As of the end of the first quarter, Chrysler had $12.6 billion in debt.  Q1 interest payments on the debt totaled $227 million, down 20 percent from a year earlier.

During the first quarter, Chrysler shipped 607,000 vehicles, including models manufactured for its parent company Fiat S.p.A.  Global sales for the quarter reached 523,000 units, up 33 percent from a year earlier.

Retail sales in the U.S. increased 40 percent, outpacing the industry-wide increase of 13 percent for the quarter.  International sales, including models sold by Fiat, soared 80 percent to 67,000 units.

Chrysler predicts it will ship between 2.3 and 2.4 million light vehicles by year’s end and post net revenues of approximately $65 billion.

Production of the 2013 Dodge Dart was scheduled to begin last Monday. The Dart compact sedan will be the first model to come from the Chrysler-Fiat tie-up and is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform. It will reportedly have a base sticker price of $16,790.

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