Chrysler ends robust ’11 with $183M profit

February 1, 2012
Chrysler ends robust ’11 with $183M profit
By BRYCE G. HOFFMAN / The Detroit News
Chrysler Group LLC reported Wednesday a net profit of $183 million for 2011, swinging back into the black from a loss of $652 million in 2010.

It was the first time the Auburn Hills automaker has reported a full-year profit since 1997, and it exceeded the targets set by CEO Sergio Marchionne when Fiat SpA took over the company in 2009.

“The house is in good order. We are proud of the work we’ve done,” Marchionne said in a statement released Wednesday morning. “Now we greet a new year of high expectations with our heads down, forging ahead and focused on executing the goals we’ve set for ourselves as a company.”

Chrysler also reported net income of $225 million for the last three months of 2011, the company’s highest quarterly profit since emerging from bankruptcy.

For the full year, Chrysler reported net revenue of $55 billion, a 31 percent increase over the previous year’s total. Revenue increased 41 percent in the fourth quarter, climbing to $15.1 billion.

Chrysler’s free cash flow for the year totaled $1.9 billion, and the company ended 2011 with $9.6 billion in cash, up from $7.3 billion a year ago. The automaker also cut its net industrial debt in half last year, down to $2.9 billion from $5.8 billion at the end of 2010.

Today’s results capped off a strong year for Chrysler, which saw worldwide vehicle sales increase by 22 percent to nearly 1.9 million units. The company’s share of the critical U.S. market climbed from 9.2 percent in 2010 to 10.5 percent in 2011, thanks to a 43 percent increase in domestic sales.

“Chrysler is the surprising comeback kid — again,” said analyst Michelle Krebs of Edmunds. “When Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, there were plenty of skeptics, but the automaker has proven them wrong. Since detailing its plan for the future in November 2009, Chrysler has done everything it said it would, creating an impressive recent track record and providing confidence that it will meet its 2012 goals.”

Chrysler’s success allowed Fiat to pay off its loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments ahead of schedule, and increase its controlling stake in the automaker to 58.5 percent.

The rest of Chrysler is owned by an hourly retiree health care trust fund run by the United Auto Workers.

The company’s earnings bring UAW members one step closer to getting the other half of the signing bonus their union negotiated with Chrysler for the new contract in October. That bonus is contingent on Chrysler’s return to solid financial footing.

Chrysler’s financial results were not reported separately after it merged with Germany’s Daimler AG in 1998, and they were not reported at all following its sale to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP in 2007.

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