Fiat posts more than double Q4 profit thanks to Chrysler gains image

Fiat posted a strong profit for the fourth quarter of 2011, boosted by growth at Chrysler Group, the U.S. automaker which is owned 58.5 percent by the Italian company.

Fiat’s earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items, which Fiat calls trading profit, more than doubled to €765 million ($1 billion), up from €319 million a year earlier, the automaker said in a statement. Fiat’s revenue also more than doubled to €19.6 billion.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, forecast combined 2012 profit will increase to €4.5 billion from €2.39 billion last year thanks to Chrysler earnings, which have been consolidated into Fiat’s results since June. Chrysler has been offsetting Fiat’s slumping sales in Europe, where annual losses are estimated at €800 million. Fiat shares rose 35 percent so far this year, with the carmaker being valued at €6 billion.

Marchionne aims to merge Fiat with Chrysler by 2015 and boost revenue to more than €100 billion in 2014. The CEO is looking for a third partner in Europe to increase efficiencies and cut development costs as the Fiat is trying to end the losses. Fiat sales in Europe fell 12 percent last year to 947,786 vehicles, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.