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Fiat says profit more than doubled in 1st quarter amid record revenues

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MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Fiat SpA's net income more than doubled in the second quarter, the company said Tuesday as it reported record quarterly revenues driven by the success of the flagship Punto model and the recently released Bravo mid-size sedan.

Net income at the Turin-based automaker came to 593 million euros (US$819.8 million), up from 280 million euros in the same period a year earlier, the company said.

The automaker also reported net debt dropped below one billion euros ($1.38 billion) to 873 million euros ($1.2 billion) for a decrease of 404 million euros ($558 million), despite payment of more than 500 million euros ($691 million) in dividends and share buybacks.

Revenues rose 12 per cent to more than 15 billion euros ($21 billion) to the highest level ever, with growth in all businesses.

The once-failing automaking group, which makes cars under the Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands as well as trucks and agricultural and construction vehicles, returned to profitability in 2005, thanks to a strategy of targeted alliances and focus on the core business.

Revenues in the automobile business, which accounts for some 80 per cent of the group earnings, were up 12 per cent to 6.8 billion euros ($9.4 billion).

The automaker said deliveries in the competitive western Europe market were up 3.8 per cent amid an overall slowdown of 1.4 per cent, while deliveries worldwide rose 12 per cent to 578,700 units. It cited sales of the Punto, Panda and Bravo _ Fiat's entry in to the mid-size sedan market that was launched in February _ as well of the light commercial vehicles Ducato and Scudo.

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Fiat says profit more than doubled in 1st quarter amid record revenues
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