Maserati sales help drive Fiat to Q1 growth

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Strong European sales and demand for its luxury Maserati SUV helped Fiat Chrysler post an 11 per cent rise in first quarter profits, in spite of falling sales in North America and a return to losses in Latin America.

Adjusted operating profit at the company that also owns the Jeep, Dodge and Alfa Romeo brands rose to €1.5bn, with sales up 4 per cent to €27.7bn.

In North America, its largest region, profits were down fractionally at €1.2bn, while revenues fell 3 per cent to €17bn and the number of cars it sold fell 6 per cent to 609,000, primarily due to lower sales to fleet operators such as hire car companies or businesses.

Profits in Europe, Middle East and Africa almost doubled, rising 85 per cent to €178m on sales that were up 12 per cent to €5.6bn due to customers buying more expensive cars, as well as cost savings from purchasing and manufacturing.

Maserati, its luxury brand, saw profits balloon from €16m to €107m after the release of the Levante SUV drove a near-doubling of sales to €949m and a rise in the brand’s margin from 3.2 per cent to 11.3 per cent.

The group returned to a loss in Latin America, booking a €20m loss compared to an €11m profit a year earlier, which it blamed on inflation and foreign exchange movements. It also booked a further €32m restructuring charge for the region, which is not included in the €20m loss figure.

Net industrial debt, which the company has pledged to reduce to below €2.5bn by the end of 2017, climbed €527m to €5.1bn.

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