Fiat Chrysler shares extend losses after CEO's consolidation call
By Agnieszka Flak
MILAN (Reuters) - Milan-listed shares in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) FCHA.MI fell to a 10-week low on Thursday, a day after its chief executive called for large-scale industry consolidation.
Sergio Marchionne on Wednesday renewed his plea for shrinking the number of players in the global auto sector to sustain the heavy capital investments needed to meet demands for cleaner, safer vehicles.
Sources told Reuters earlier this month that Marchionne was hoping for a deal to plug FCA's weaknesses but that he may struggle to find a partner.
At the start of Wednesday's presentation, which followed FCA's release of weaker-than-expected first-quarter results, Marchionne said the aim of the discussion was not to put the company up for sale, but analysts were not convinced.
"Marchionne is a shrewd operator and rightly investors have been asking what was the purpose of yesterday's presentation," said Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst at Evercore ISI. "The answer is very simple; he is looking to force a marriage for FCA."
The stock closed sharply lower for the second straight session on Thursday, falling 5.7 percent to 13.35 euros. The losses over the last two sessions wiped 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) off FCA's market capitalization.
Traders said Marchionne's comments put some of FCA's own difficulties in the spotlight, notably its debt pile, among the industry's biggest, weak margins in its profit engine North America and a flagging Latin American business.
The difficulties are likely to become even more apparent as the North American car market peaks. Continued...