TURIN -- Fiat Group reduced its profit outlook for 2009 by about a third and revealed a debt pile higher than its own forecasts, sending the company's shares nearly 12 percent lower.
Fiat is the first European carmaker to report 2008 financial results and its numbers gave the market an idea of what to expect from other European car companies.
"We are going to be shocked by the state of balance sheets by the end of 2009," Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said.
Fiat said it expects to remain profitable in 2009.
"Our current prediction sees 2009 trading profit at over 1 billion euros and net profit at about 300 million after restructuring charges of 300 million euros," the company said.
Those 2009 earnings would be realized despite a 20 percent unit sales decline across all the group sectors in the course of the year.
Fiat's industrial debt, which excludes debt from financial services, increased to 5.9 billion euros in 2008, shocking investors and sending Fiat shares down 11.35 percent to 3.9450 euros at 1339 GMT, their lowest level in around 15 years.