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Chrysler stalls as profit falls 65%

Chrysler's first-quarter profit tumbled 65 per cent as shipments of cars and trucks fell while it prepared to launch several key new vehicles.

The Auburn Hills, Mich., company said Monday that it earned $166 million in the January-March quarter, compared with $473 million a year ago. Revenue fell 6 per cent to $15.4 billion.

Chrysler, which is majority-owned by Italy's Fiat SpA, said worldwide vehicle shipments fell 6 per cent during the quarter to 574,000. Chrysler books revenue when it ships vehicles to dealerships.

The company attributed the decline mainly to the end of production of the aging Jeep Liberty midsize SUV at a factory in Toledo, Ohio, last year. 

But Chrysler said it expects a strong second half of the year. The company kept its guidance of $2.2 billion in net income, revenue between $72 billion and $75 billion and shipments of 2.6 million to 2.7 million vehicles.

"We remain on track to achieve our business targets even as the first-quarter results were affected by an aggressive product launch schedule," Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler Group LLC and Fiat, said in a statement.

Chrysler finished the first quarter with $11.9 billion in cash, compared with $11.6 billion at the end of 2012. Debt was down $100 million from the end of the year, at $12.5 billion.

The Canadian Press

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