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Fiat Chrysler drives profits higher

[MILAN] Fiat Chrysler (FCA) said Thursday that its net profit jumped 59 per cent in the first quarter of the year, but unfavourable exchange rate changes ate away at an increase in sales of vehicles.

The net profit of 1.021 billion euros (S$1.64 billion) was below the average of 1.058 billion expected by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, but investors nonetheless pushed the carmaker's shares up 2.6 per cent in afternoon trading in Milan.

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The Italian-American carmaker sold just over 1.2 million vehicles in January through March, a five per cent increase compared with the first quarter last year.

Revenue dipped by 2 per cent, however, to 27.027 billion euros, which also fell short of the expectations of analysts.

The firm said changes in exchange rates hurt revenue, and if exchange rates had held constant revenue would have increased by 9 per cent.

The gain in the value of the euro versus the dollar lowered the value of sales made in the US when converted into the single currency.

The carmaker posted record results last year, but in January adopted a cautious outlook for 2018.

It plans to release a new strategic outlook on June 1, with its chief executive Sergio Marchionne set to step down next year.