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Chrysler presents Q1 results in analyst call

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and CFO Richard Palmer presented Chrysler’s first quarter financials to industry and financial analysts on a conference call this morning. To view the presentation in Adobe PDF format, click here.

While much of the discussion reiterated the figures already released, there were some noteworthy comments from Marchionne on several topics.

First, he downplayed the impact of the Japanese disasters, both on Chrysler’s production and on future sales opportunities. Worst-case scenario is that Chrysler could lose 100,000 units of production; the number most likely will be closer to 50,000 with normal conditions returning by the end of the year. Marchionne refused to speculate on whether the problems within the Japanese auto industry will translate into sales for the American automakers.

He did not want to discuss market share, saying the goal was two million worldwide sales, with 1.4 million in the U.S., whatever share that turned out to be.

Marchionne, while pleased with the first quarter’s performance, said the company will not change its guidance until at least the end of the second quarter, if then.

Marchionne admitted Fiat is behind schedule, primarily due to delays in getting its dealers opened. At the end of April, just over 40 dealerships were open for business, far short of the 150 that received franchises. Marchionne said much of the delay is due to licenses and governmental issues.

A question was asked about the eventual merger of Fiat and Chrysler. Marchionne said that was a subject for the future and declined to go beyond his original comments that it makes sense to merge two publicly traded companies. He did clarify that any merger would be between Fiat SpA and whatever entity Chrysler becomes when it files an initial public offering. Marchionne also reiterated that he expects Fiat to have majority ownership of Chrysler Group LLC by the end of the fourth quarter of 2011.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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