Chrysler turns 1st profit since bankruptcy

DETROIT - Chrysler Group LLC said Monday it earned $116 million during the first three months of the year, giving the company its first profit since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, and released details about its debt-refinancing plans.

The profit compares with a $197 million loss for the same January-March period last year and represents a major milestone for a company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy almost two years ago.

Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said the results boosted the morale of the company’s management team when he announced them at an internal meeting.

“I think it’s fair to say that the mood is one of pride and I guess comfort in knowing that we are executing according to the plan,” Marchionne said during a conference call with analysts and journalists. “I can’t even put a price on that kind of stuff ... but success is incredibly temporary. The first quarter is done, but we have a lot of quarters to do.”

“These results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our employees, suppliers and dealers, all of whom are helping Chrysler create a new corporate culture built on the quality of our products and processes, and simple, sound management principles,” Marchionne said.

Chrysler also said Monday it intends to repay $7.5 billion in government loans with new loans and new debt it expects to secure by the end of June totaling $7.5 billion.

Marchionne had previously said Chrysler would earn a profit this year but did not say how early the profits would begin.

The Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker said Monday its financial performance improved over the last three months because sales, market share and pricing improved.

Revenue increased 35 percent to $13.1 billion for the first quarter compared with $9.7 billion for the same period last year.

Chrysler’s worldwide sales of cars and trucks increased 18 percent to 394,000 cars and trucks during the first quarter.

For the year, Chrysler said it expects a total profit of $200 million to $500 million compared with its $652 million loss last year.