UPDATE 2-Chrysler earnings down 65 pct on product launches

Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:09am EDT
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By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT, April 29 (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC said on Monday quarterly profit fell 65 percent as it absorbed the costs of new-vehicle launches.

The No. 3 U.S. automaker, which emerged from a government-sponsored bankruptcy four years ago, stood by its financial forecasts for 2013, including net income of $2.2 billion, up from $1.7 billion in 2012.

"We remain on track to achieve our business targets, even as the first-quarter results were affected by an aggressive product launch schedule," said Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of both Chrysler and its parent, Fiat SpA .

Separately, Fiat posted first-quarter group trading profit of 618 million euros ($805 million), below analysts' average forecast of 720 million euros. It reported continued losses in Europe, where the car market weakened further.

At Chrysler, first-quarter net income fell to $166 million from $473 million a year earlier. Net revenue slipped 6 percent to $15.4 billion.

The company said it had $11.9 billion of cash as of March 31, up from $11.6 billion at the end of 2012.

Chrysler said it still expects 2013 net revenue of $72 billion to $75 billion, boosted by a strong second half. It expects free cash flow of at least $1 billion.   Continued...