Chrysler Group First-quarter Profit up on high sales image

Chrysler Group LLC, which is majority owned by Italy-based Fiat SpA has reported preliminary net income of $473 million for the first quarter of 2012, up more than 300 percent from $116 million a year ago, driven primarily by its 40 percent increase in U.S. retail sales.

Not bad for a company that almost died three years ago.

Proceeds grew by 25% to 16.4 billion Dollars against the 13.1 billion recorded in the same quarter of 2011. At 31 March of 2012 its industrial debt was down to 1.3 billion Dollars from 3.4 billion in 2011 and 2.9 billion at 31 December 2011.

The results underscore how Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne’s move in 2010 and 2011 to revamp the auto maker’s vehicle portfolio is paying off by winning over shoppers who are now buying without the hefty discounts and other incentives.

The company shipped 607,000 vehicles worldwide in the quarter, up 25% from a year earlier. Chrysler boosted its share of the U.S. new vehicle market to 11.2% from 9.2% in the first quarter of 2011.

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both Chrysler and Turin, Italy-based Fiat, plans to merge the two companies and boost sales to more than 100 billion euros ($132 billion) by 2014. Fiat boosted its ownership stake of Chrysler to 58.5 percent in January.

For 2012, the company expects net income of around $1.5 billion on net revenue of about $65 billion.