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Fiat Raises Full-Year Targets

AP
Wednesday, 24 Oct 2007 | 6:48 AM ET

Fiat said Wednesday that net profit more than doubled in the third quarter, leading it to raise its full-year targets on a strong performance by its core auto division and good results in its truck and farm machinery operations.

Shrugging off stiff competition in a sluggish European auto market, Fiat reported a net profit for the quarter of 432 million euros ($615.7 million), up from 195 million euros the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose 17 percent to 13.86 billion euros ($19.76 billion).

The most significant improvement came again from the Turin-based group's auto division, boosted by strong sales of its flagship Grande Punto car, as well as its new 500 model.

Brazil, Fiat's second-largest market outside Italy, also continued to show strong growth.

Trading profit -- meaning earnings before asset disposals, restructuring costs or other one-time items -- more than doubled, rising to 185 million euros ($263.7 million) from 51 million euros a year earlier.

Trading profit for the full year is now expected to range from 2.9 billion euros to 3 billion euros ($4.13 billion to $4.28 billion), and net income is forecast at between 1.8 billion euros and 1.9 billion euros ($2.57 billion and $2.71 billion).

Fiat, which also makes the car brands Lancia and Alfa Romeo, said trading profit at its truck unit Iveco jumped 34 percent to 190 million euros ($270.8 million), while trading profit at its CNH farm machinery business rose 88 percent to 225 million euros ($320.7 million).

Shares in Fiat fell 0.4 percent to 22.90 euros ($32.64) after first moving higher on the results. They have risen 59 percent this year as investors become increasingly confident that under Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne the company has returned to lasting financial vigor.

Marchionne has been pursuing a strategy of industrial alliances and joint ventures to share costs and enter key markets. The group, once failing, returned to profitability in 2005.

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