Ram Model Pickup Sales Drives First Quarter Profit for Wavering Fiat Chrysler America

Shares of automaker Fiat Chrysler were up and down on Friday after the company released first-quarter earnings that showed disappointing performance but maintained its estimates to meet its profit target for 2019. Indeed, US shares of the Italian-American car company slid as much as 2.8 percent before rebounding 6 percent in intraday trading.

According to the automaker, sales in both North American and European markets are slowing, driving profits down as a result.  At the same time, though, pickup trucks in the US—including many Ram models as well as the Jeep Gladiator—are likely to help elevate the company’s 2019 profit target, which is more than 6.7 billion euros, which is approximately $7.5 billion USD.

Indeed, sales of the very popular Ram pickup truck line soared 22 percent since last year as US sales, overall, fell more than 3 percent.  In the bigger picture, though, Fiat Chrysler reported first-quarter net profit was down a shocking 47 percent from the same period last year.  Profits fell from 951 million to 508 million Euros, year-over-year ($1.06 billion down to $568 million USD). 

On top of this, earnings per share did not meet Wall Street expectations, coming in at only 40 cents (0.36 Euro) against analyst estimates of 52 cents (0.47 Euro).  This helped to contribute to a stock decline of 29.17 percent in the past 12 months, though Fiat Chrysler still managed to gain more than 10 percent on the year so far. 

At the end of the day, FCA CEO Mike Manley pledged performance will improve later this year.  In a conference call, he said, “The first quarter will in fact be the lowest quarter that we have.”

Manley also notes, “The market is responding enthusiastically to the rollout of our new products, and we continue to execute initiatives that will strengthen the underperforming parts of our business. Based on these factors and our first-quarter results being in line with our expectations, we are confident in our 2019 guidance.” 

Truly, Fiat Chrysler could lean heavily on Ram sales to bolster growth.  For example, Ram sales are up 25 percent in April and 22 percent on the year, so far. On that note, FCA continues to produce the older—and apparently very popular—version of the Ram 1500, a model which the company now considers a Classic.