* Cuts 2013 trading profit forecast to 3.5-3.8 bln euros
* Forecast was 4.0-4.5 bln, analysts expected 3.8 bln
* Weak Latam and loss in Europe offset Chrysler profit
* CEO says ready for Chrysler IPO this year
* Shares fall as much as 5 percent
(Adding Maserati results, upcoming presentation, more CEO
By Jennifer Clark and Bernie Woodall
MILAN/DETROIT, Oct 30 Italian carmaker Fiat
cut its 2013 profit and sales forecasts on Wednesday as
a third-quarter slump in Latin America offset a strong
performance at Chrysler, the No.3 U.S. automaker it controls.
Fiat slashed the bottom end of its trading profit forecast
to 3.5 billion euros ($4.8 billion) from 4.0 billion euros,
below analysts' lowest estimate of 3.65 billion.
Analysts were expecting a poor performance in Brazil, which
usually accounts for about a quarter of Fiat's trading profit,
because of the strong euro and the end of car sales incentives,
but were surprised by the extent of the cut in guidance.
"Certainly a disappointment and a sign of how tough things
are at the mass end of the market," Barclays analysts said.
Fiat shares dropped as much as 5 percent on the news, and
closed down 2.2 percent.
Latin America and Chrysler have become increasingly
important to Fiat as its business in Europe struggles with a
six-year slump in auto sales in the region. Fiat has been hard
hit like many rivals in Europe due to its focus on the
mid-market, which has lagged both budget and luxury segments.
But Fiat said on Wednesday trading profit - earnings before
interest, tax and one-off items - in Latin America fell to 165
million euros in third quarter from 341 million a year ago, due
to lower sales, higher input costs and a weaker Brazilian real.
The group also said its net debt rose to 8.3 billion euros,
way above analysts' average forecast of 7.6 billion.
The news was better elsewhere.
Fiat's net loss in Europe - where mass-market carmakers are
struggling with the lowest sales in 20 years - narrowed to 165
million euros from 238 million a year earlier.
Sales at its Maserati unit rose to 444 million euros from
184 million for the third quarter of last year, as the luxury
brand's two new models found favour with buyers. Fiat said it
would update the market on its plans to relaunch Alfa Romeo at
an analysts meeting in the first quarter of 2014.
Chrysler, meantime, posted a 22 percent rise in net profit
to $464 million.
The earnings of both Fiat and Chrysler are being watched by
analysts as an indication of the value Chrysler could fetch
should its minority shareholder press ahead with an initial
public offering (IPO) of some of its shares.
Fiat wants to buy the 41.5 percent stake in Chrysler owned
by a union-affiliated healthcare trust, but the two have so far
failed to reach an agreement on price.
BREAKINGVIEWS on Fiat and Chrysler IPO:
Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday
there were currently no talks being held with the trust and he
was ready for an IPO to take place this year, while reiterating
his long-term goal was to own 100 percent of Chrysler.
The Barclays analysts were pessimistic of Fiat's chances of
buying out Chrysler on the cheap, saying that if the trust's
shares were floated, they were likely to attract an activist
investor that could drive up the price Fiat would have to pay.
Fiat's third-quarter trading profit dropped 9 percent to 816
million euros, missing analysts' mean forecast of 915 million.
It cut its 2013 revenue guidance to about 88 billion euros,
at the bottom of its previous range, and now sees trading profit
at between 3.5 billion and 3.8 billion euros - placing the top
end of its forecast in line with last year's figure.
Chrysler, which Fiat has controlled since 2009, said its net
revenue rose 13.5 percent to $17.6 billion in the third quarter,
as strong sales of its pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokee
helped offset a delay in sales for the smaller Jeep Cherokee.
Some analysts had been predicting that the Jeep Cherokee
launch delay would hurt third-quarter results. The Cherokee
began shipping to dealers last week.
Chrysler's U.S. market share fell to 11.2 percent in the
quarter from 11.3 percent a year ago, but analysts think it will
improve with the Cherokee launch.
($1 = 0.7262 euros)
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall and Jennifer Clark; Editing by
Erica Billingham and Mark Potter)