Chrysler has big gain in third-quarter profit as auto sales rise

Chrysler Group said profits soared in the third quarter, helped by a remake of its product lineup and the introduction of the Dodge Dart compact sedan.

The Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker said its net income rose 80% to $381 million compared with the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 18% to $15.5 billion.

“We’ve changed the conversation at Chrysler Group,” said Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Chrysler. “We have revamped our product lineup with such segment-defining models as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Chrysler 300.”

Marchionne also runs Italian automaker Fiat, which has gradually taken a controlling interest in Chrysler since the automaker’s emergence from bankruptcy restructuring in 2009.

Fiat is scheduled to release its financial results Tuesday. But the Italian automaker is dealing with a tough European market damaged by the debt crisis and recession in many of the region’s nations and analysts don’t expect it to match Chrysler’s gains.

Auto sales have fallen to a nearly 20-year low in Western Europe  this year and are expected to remain flat or continue to dip next year.

But thanks to a comparatively robust auto market in the U.S., Chrysler is on the upswing and recovering from its restructuring much more quickly than many analysts expected.

For the first nine months of this year, it earned a profit of $1.3 billion.

Its U.S. sales have jumped 24% through the first nine months of this year, well above the industry’s 14.5% average, according to Autodata Corp. During the same period Chrysler captured 11.5% of U.S. auto sales, up from a market share of 10.6% a year earlier. It has gained business at the same time domestic rivals General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have lost ground to the Asian import brands.


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