DETROIT (AP) — Strong U.S. sales powered Chrysler to a healthy third-quarter profit.
The company on Monday reported net income of $381 million, up 80 percent from $212 million a year earlier. The profit was due mainly to a 13-percent sales increase in the U.S., where Chrysler does three quarters of its business. The company sold nearly 417,000 cars and trucks in the U.S. under the Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat and Chrysler brands.
Under the ownership of Italy's Fiat SpA, the Detroit company has been transformed since its 2009 trip through bankruptcy protection. It has posted profits since early last year and is now propping up Fiat, which is struggling with dropping sales in Europe.
Unlike its Detroit rivals General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., Chrysler has few sales in Europe and its profits aren't being eroded by losses there.
Chrysler's sales have been helped by a series of revamped cars and trucks that began rolling out in 2010, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, the Ram pickup and the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan.
The company's quarterly revenue rose 18 percent to $15.5 billion as global sales increased 12 percent.
The company earned $1.29 billion in the first nine months of the year, and it reaffirmed a 2012 profit forecast of $1.5 billion.
Chrysler Group LLC also repeated estimates that it would ship 2.3 million to 2.4 million vehicles worldwide this year, as well as generate $65 billion in revenue.
CEO Sergio Marchionne, in an e-mail to employees, said the competition isn't showing any signs of vulnerability, so the company will have to keep fighting for its share of the market.
"We are going in the right direction, and I simply ask you to keep faith in Chrysler and in each other and keep working to shape this company," he wrote.
Chrysler plans 66 new, revamped or special-edition cars and trucks by 2014, Marchionne wrote.
Even though it had a good quarter, Chrysler's rapid growth is starting to slow. Its U.S. sales last quarter fell about 4 percent from the second quarter and it faces increased competition from Honda and Toyota. The two Japanese companies have recovered from last year's earthquake and tsunami that hobbled their factories and left them short of models at U.S. showrooms.