DETROIT Automaker Chrysler Group LLC showed its best quarterly profit since its 2009 bankruptcy on strong sales in North America, and confirmed guidance that it will show a profit of about $1.5 billion in 2012.
Chrysler, managed by its majority owner Fiat SpA FIA.MI, showed first quarter net income of $473 million, up from $116 million a year ago.
Chrysler's auto sales increased 33 percent to 523,000 vehicles in the quarter, led by its home U.S. market where it gained market share on a first-quarter sales jump of 36 percent versus as the industry-wide showed a gain of 13 percent.
"Another positive quarter - built on sales gains that have surpassed the industry average - is affirmation that the Chrysler team is maintaining its focus," said Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of both Chrysler and Italy's Fiat.
Marchionne said the company remains on target with its five-year plan unveiled in November 2009.
Chrysler said its quarterly revenue of $16.35 billion was an improvement over $13.12 billion a year earlier.
The No. 3 U.S. automaker also reported modified operating profit of $740 million, up from $477 million a year ago.
Chrysler confirmed 2012 guidance made in January of achieving net income of about $1.5 billion, eight times the 2011 net profit of $183 million. Last year's profit was the first annual profit for Chrysler since 2005 when it was owned by Germany's Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE).
Italy's Fiat SpA took control of the company after Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcy, which was sponsored by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
Later on Thursday, Marchionne will address the state of the larger Fiat, which also reports results.
Fiat's stake in Chrysler is 58.5 percent. The remaining 41.5 percent is owned by the retiree healthcare trust affiliated with the United Auto Workers union, which represents the company's U.S. hourly workers.
(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)