Italian automaker Fiat Spa says first-quarter profits were euro29 million ($41.5 million), compared with a loss a year earlier (of 25 million euros), on increased sales of luxury brands and strong performance in the components business.

Net revenues for the three months were up to 9.21 billion euros from 8.60 billion euros in the previous year. Looking ahead to 2011, the company confirmed its revenues target of around 37 billion euros and net profit at around 0.3 billion euros. In addition, capital expenditure is expected in the range of 4 billion euros to 4.5 billion euros.
Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, 58, listed Fiat’s trucks and tractors units into a separate company at the beginning of the year to focus on carmaking.

Shares in Fiat extended early gains and were up 4.3 percent at 1043 GMT, outperforming a 3.7 percent gain in the STOXX Europe 600 auto index .SXAP.

“Revenues have been lifted by the Brazil effect, but the shares are going up because the net industrial debt has turned lower,” said Erich Hauser, an analyst at Credit Suisse. Fiat’s debt stood at 542 million euros at end-2010.

Fiat sales in Brazil were particularly strong, with a first-quarter market share of 22.6 percent. Ferrari, which will start delivering its first family car next month, is the carmaker’s most profitable unit.


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