Fiat Chrysler third-quarter operating profit tops expectations on North America

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MILAN (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler FCHA.MIFCAU.N on Thursday posted higher than expected operating earnings for the third quarter, lifted by its North-American business, as the carmaker heads to a merger with French rival PSA PEUP.PA.

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and PSA, the owner of brands such as Peugeot, Citroen and Opel, said earlier on Thursday they planned to join forces through a 50-50 share swap to create the world’s fourth-largest automaker.

FCA’s adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) came in at 1.96 billion euros ($2.18 billion), ahead of the 1.89 billion euro average forecast from analysts polled by Reuters.

The results, which FCA described as built on “record” North American profitability, led the automaker to reiterate its full-year guidance of an adjusted EBIT over 6.7 billion euros.

Margins on adjusted EBIT in FCA’s North America region rose 40 basis points year on year to 10.6%.

FCA added it expected a further improvement of its financial performance in 2020.

Milan-listed shares in FCA were up 8.2% at 1215 GMT.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Stephen Jewkes and Mark Potter