Fiat Chrysler shares tumble on strategic plan doubts
By Stefano Rebaudo and Laurence Frost
MILAN/PARIS (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler's FIA.MI shares fell sharply on Wednesday as analysts questioned whether the carmaker could achieve Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne's new targets - and how his ambitious expansion plan would be funded.
Trading was briefly suspended after the shares tumbled more than 9 percent, before resuming their decline to close almost 12 percent lower at 7.48 euros, with investors still digesting Tuesday's strategy presentation in Detroit.
Under the plan, outlined in 10 hours of analyst meetings, Marchionne pledged to multiply sales, raise profitability and slash debt by 2018, while investing 48 billion euros ($67 billion) in a global expansion led by the Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands.
"These targets were almost unnecessarily bullish, leaving multiple execution challenges - even if they won't be tested for several years," said Citi analyst Philip Watkins.
Quarterly earnings, also published late on Tuesday, were a "major disappointment" that served to underline the challenge, Watkins added in a note.
Fiat Chrysler swung to a 319 million euro net loss in January-March from a 31 million profit a year earlier, missing expectations with a 622 million euro trading profit.
The shares, which had risen 44 percent since Fiat announced a January 1 deal to take full control of Chrysler, opened late in Milan as a result of heavy trading volumes.
"The first quarter was a timely reminder of the risks associated with Fiat's plan," said Rabih Freiha of Exane BNP Paribas, citing North American pricing pressure that the brokerage expects to cause more trouble for Chrysler. Continuación...