Italian carmaker Fiat on Tuesday posted a smaller profit in the third quarter of the year, as a positive performance by its US subsidiary Chrysler was offset by increasing losses on the European side of its business.
Fiat said its net quarterly profit was 286 million euros (370 million dollars), down from 358 million euros in the second quarter of 2012. Excluding Chrysler, losses increased from 246 million euros to 281 million euros.
From January to September 2012, net profit was 1.023 billion euros, down from 1.386 billion euros a year earlier. Excluding Chrysler there was an 800 million euro loss, compared to a 1.2-billion-euro profit in the first nine months of 2011.
Fiat said its share of the European market had fallen to 5.9 per cent in the third quarter. It was around 8 per cent in 2009. The company said this was "almost entirely attributable" to the shrinking size of the Italian market, where Fiat sells the most cars.
Demand for cars in Italy "fell 23 per cent, marking the worst third quarter performance since 1976," Fiat noted.
However, sales grew in Latin America and Asia, as well as in North America, which "more than offset declines" in Europe, the company said.
Official figures showed that Fiat now derives less than 20 per cent of its revenues from selling cars to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. By contrast, the North American market contributes over 50 per cent.
A day earlier, Chrysler said its third quarter profits had risen to 381 million dollars, up from 212 million dollars in the second quarter of 2012. Worldwide sales grew 12 per cent to 556,000 units.
Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne was expected to meet later Tuesday with trade unions to illustrate plans to deal with falling European sales and avoid closing one of the company's five Italian plants.
Most European carmakers have been hard hit by the eurozone crisis, which has reduced demand for cars. Last week Ford's European division said it would close a factory in Belgium and two in Britain, while France's PSA Peugeot-Citroen was granted aid by the government.
Fiat's range includes cars with the Alfa-Romeo, Lancia and Abarth brands, as well as Ferrari and Maserati luxury supercars. Chrysler also sells cars under the Jeep, Dodge and Ram brands.
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