Fiat CEO Marchionne Says Quarterly Profit to Rise on U.S.

Fiat SpA Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne predicted first-quarter earnings will rise amid “strong” industrywide demand this month in the U.S., the home market of the Italian carmaker’s Chrysler division.

Business in the U.S. is going well, while the Brazilian market is “choppy,” Marchionne said today in Geneva. European losses are likely to narrow this year, even with extra investment in new models, he said.

Fiat bought full control of Chrysler in January as part of Marchionne’s strategy to merge the two regional players into a manufacturer with the scale to challenge the likes of General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG in global auto sales. Turin-based Fiat’s first-quarter 2013 earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items totaled 618 million euros ($860 million).

Earnings on that basis, called trading profit, “should be higher,” Marchionne said. “My gut feeling is, we’re going in the right direction.”

Fiat rose 0.3 percent to 7.84 euros at the close in Milan. The stock has risen 32 percent this year, valuing the manufacturer at 9.8 billion euros.

Marchionne forecast today that deliveries by the combined company, which will eventually be named Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, may reach 5 million vehicles in 2016. That compares with a goal outlined today by Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, of selling more than 10 million cars and trucks in 2014.

The CEO is scheduled to publish a business plan May 6 providing details on new models and financing once the merger with Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler is completed later this year.

“It’s been a very hard job to get all the pieces of the mosaic together and have a global view in the end,” Marchionne said. “You’ll finally get to see what I’ve had in mind in May.”

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