DETROIT -- Chrysler Group -- the U.S. automaker controlled by Italy's Fiat S.p.A -- today reported its first net profit since emerging from bankruptcy in June 2009.
Chrysler posted net income of $116 million for the first quarter, compared with a net loss of $197 million a year earlier. Revenue jumped 35 percent to $13.1 billion as global vehicle sales increased 18 percent.
Cash rose to $9.9 billion on March 31 from $7.3 billion three months called the results "impressive" and noted Chrysler exceeded Wall Street expectations "on all levels."
Chrysler also said it generated free cash flow of $2.5 billion -- up from $1.6 billion during the same quarter last year. Morgan Stanley called that result "the key positive surprise for us, leaving net debt at only $3.4 billion."
"Chrysler Group's improved sales and financial performance in the first quarter show that our rejuvenated product lineup is gaining momentum in the marketplace," said Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne in a statement.
It's "too early to declare them the comeback kid, but they are back in the ring fighting," Warren Browne, a vice president at consultant AutomotiveCompass, said in an e-mail before the release.
The profit punctuates the ongoing reconstruction of Chrysler by Fiat, which took management control as part of the U.S. government bailout two years ago.
Chrysler had been steered by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which acquired 80 percent of the U.S. automaker from Daimler AG in May 2007 for $7.45 billion.