It's All In How You Look At It: Headlines Proclaim Millions In Losses, Gains For Chrysler

August 9, 2010

Second-quarter financial results are due from a number of automakers this week. And as much as we love poring over the numbers (we're nerds that way), we also love seeing how those figures get heralded in headlines. The variations can be very, very telling.

Case in point: Chrysler, which announced Q2 results this morning. According to the the company's official press release, Chrysler had a bang-up three months, roaring through April, May, and June with a $183 million operating profit. Not surprisingly, that's what Chrysler's hometown paper chose to highlight in its headline today: "Chrysler posts $183M operating profit for Q2". The first two sentences of the Detroit News article are pretty glowing: "Chrysler Group LLC today reported a second-quarter profit of $183 million on operations, its second consecutive quarterly operating profit since emerging from bankruptcy last year.... Chrysler surprised the industry by making $143 million on operations, which excludes interest and taxes, in the first quarter."

Several hundred miles to the east, the news wasn't received quite so warmly. The Rupert Murdoch's conservative Wall Street Journal bellowed "Chrysler Posts $172 Million Loss Amid Sluggish Sales" . Compare the first two sentences above with these from WSJ: "Chrysler Group LLC reported a net loss of $172 million for the second quarter amid sluggish sales, the latest sign that the smallest of the three Detroit auto makers continues to struggle a year after emerging from bankruptcy reorganization. The loss was slightly lower than the $197 net loss the company reported in the first quarter of this year." The East Coast headlines weren't all bad for Chrysler, though: the more liberal New York Times proclaimed "Revenue Rises, and Chrysler Narrows Its Loss in Quarter".

Why such discrepancies? First and foremost, there are the obvious political issues surrounding Chrysler's controversial bankruptcy and bailout, which was overseen by the Obama administration. But the variations are also a product of Chrysler's mixed-bag report: there's a lot of data in the financials, and lots of fodder for Chrysler's return or ruin, depending on which side of the argument writers are inclined to take.

We don't pretend to be economists or financial advisors, but there are a couple of important things to note about Chrysler's news:

  • Chrysler did have an operating profit of $183 million, up from $143 million in Q1.
  • Despite all that, Chrysler realized a net loss of $172 million in Q2, making for a loss of $369 million for the first half of 2010.
  • Chrysler has seen a 22% increase in sales, from 334,000 in Q1 to 407,000 in Q2.
  • Many attribute that surge to fleet sales, which account for a huge chunk of Chrysler's U.S. transactions -- 39% to be exact. (Chrysler's retail sales, on the other hand, are down 19% for the year.)

Nevertheless, Chrysler's CEO expects to see a profit this calendar year, with a projected $40 - $45 billion in net revenues and operation profit somewhere below $200 million.

Does Mr. Marchionne sound overly optimistic? Or will the widely acclaimed 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, paired with the (possible) December launch of the Fiat 500, be enough to save the company's bottom line? Have a look through Chrysler's press release and debate amongst yourselves.

* * * * *

Chrysler Group LLC Reports Financial Results for the Period Ended June 30, 2010

CHRYSLER GROUP ACHIEVED A POSITIVE OPERATING PROFIT OF $183 MILLION IN THE SECOND QUARTER AND POSITIVE CASH FLOW OF $474 MILLION, FURTHER STRENGTHENING CASH POSITION TO $7,841 MILLION AS AT JUNE 30, 2010

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ --

  • Net Revenues in Q2 2010 increased to $10.5 billion, up 8.2 percent from $9.7 billion in Q1 2010.
  • Operating Profit(a) came in at $183 million, an improvement of $40 million versus Q1 2010.
  • Modified EBITDA(a,b) was $855 million (8.2 percent of Net Revenues), a $68 million increase from Q1 2010.
  • Net Loss reduced to $172 million in Q2 2010 due to improved operating profit.
  • Cash(c) at June 30, 2010 increased to $7.8 billion, bringing total available liquidity to more than $10 billion. Net Industrial Debt(d) decreased to $3.4 billion.
  • Market share improved to 9.4 percent in the U.S., from 9.1 percent in Q1 2010; Canada market share remained strong at 12.9 percent in Q2 2010.
  • 2010 guidance remains unchanged (including a minimum of operating breakeven), but will probably be revised upwards on the basis of Q3 2010 results.

Chrysler Group LLC today issued its financial results for the second quarter 2010.

In Q2 2010, Net Revenues increased to $10,478 million representing an 8.2 percent improvement over the prior quarter.  First half 2010 Net Revenues totaled $20,165 million.

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