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Chrysler Sets The Stage for Stronger 2011

The skeptics will yawn at Chrysler's fourth quarter financial results. Yes, they were not spectacular (net loss of $199 million with and operating profit of $198 million) compared with the rest of the auto industry. But the Skeptics are missing The bigger picture of where Chrysler has been and where it's headed.

Chrysler grille
AP
Chrysler grille

We all know where it was. Left for dead. Considering it was pushing an aging and forgettable line-up for much of the last year, it's remarkable the company was able to get back to break even by the end of last year.

But I know what many of you are thinking: "Sure, they are doing better, but so is every one else in the auto industry."

This logic makes it sound like Sergio Marchionne and his team have not made substantial progress in jump starting Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep. They have, and in 2011 the company will take a huge step towards re-establishing itself with American car and truck buyers.

There is a wave of new models coming from the company and as they roll out amid a strengthening economy and auto market, Chrysler will swing to a profit. In fact, this year Chrysler is now projecting a profit of $2 billion for all of 2011 with revenue climbing to $55 Billion ('10 total was $41.9 billion).

The street and public will fixate on whether Chrysler will complete an ipo this year. And while I understand the importance of the ipo, it's the "blocking and tackling" Chrysler has been doing with its business that is the true story of the year.

Quality, long a joke at Chrysler, is slowly but steadily improving. The fit and finish of its newest models is approaching the level of its competitors. And the product portfolio is far more rational. Those are the reasons people should be paying attention to Chrysler.

In 2011 that's likely to finally happen.

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