Fiat Chrysler US swings to 1Q profit on big tax gain

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S., formerly Chrysler Group, posted a profit of $2.58 billion for the first quarter, getting a hefty lift from a one-time change in its tax status.

The company, now part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., gained $2.3 billion from the tax change because it's no longer classified as a partnership. Chrysler lost $690 million a year ago due largely to payment of debts to a union health care trust.

Without the one-time items, the company's adjusted profit fell 36 percent to $312 million as increased shipments and price increases were offset by higher costs for materials and recalls.

First-quarter revenue for the U.S. operation rose nearly 10 percent to $20.88 billion, driven by new products such as the Jeep Cherokee and Renegade SUVs.

Fiat Chrysler's U.S. unit reports earnings separately from its parent company even though the companies were merged into one last year. The Chrysler unit helped the parent company, which earned $101 million in the first quarter under international accounting standards.

Chrysler's first-quarter worldwide sales rose 6 percent 661,000.

Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer said it will spend about $3 billion in the next few days to redeem notes that are due in 2019, and it will consider redeeming notes due in 2021 starting early next year.

Shares of the parent company rose 50 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $14.83 on Thursday. They have traded from $8.54 to $17.08 in the past year.