For the second quarter running, Fiat group shares outperformed those of other automakers.
But it was a dismal quarter overall for vehicle manufacturers. The average stock lost more than 7 percent in value during the October to December period.
Against that market current Fiat group investors were somewhat heartened by the improvement of its auto business.
This allowed the diversified group to post an operating profit of E232 million on sales of E10.6 billion in the third quarter, compared to a loss of E30 million in the same period a year earlier.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said Fiat Auto will launch 20 new models between 2005 and 2008 and invest $14.4 billion (currently E11.9 billion) in the car division. That includes $5.3 billion earmarked for research and development.
Fiat also plans to restyle models every three years resulting in a total of 23 facelifts by 2008.
Investors were also buoyed by Fiats deal with Ford of Europe to cooperate in the small car segment because the two will split development and tooling costs.
The companies will jointly develop a new Fiat 500 and a replacement for the current Ford Ka.
Fiat will build both models in Poland. Both will be based on the Fiat Panda platform already manufactured in Poland.
The new products are scheduled to come to market in 2007 and 2008. Projected annual volume is about 240,000 units, split evenly between Fiat and Ford.
The major financial restructuring phase at Fiat is complete but the group must now deliver productivity and sales improvements to ensure its long-term future, said Philip Wylie, the automotive team leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance.