Marchionne says Chrysler will be profitable by 2011

The buzz around Chrysler has been very negative, so it’s rather surprising to here CEO Sergio Marchionne express such confidence about the prospects for the company.

After a four-month deep dive into the workings of Chrysler Group LLC, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne remains convinced the automaker can be profitable in two years.

The Auburn Hills automaker is on track to divulge its five-year plan on Nov. 4, to make public its quarterly financial statements next year and to offer public stock as early as 2011, he said.

A recent report by analyst Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley supports Marchionne’s forecast. Jonas said Chrysler could report an operating profit of $841 million in 2010, but end the year with a net loss of $169 million. Full profitability is expected in 2011: $2.48 billion in operating profit and $952 million in net income, Jonas said.

In an interview with Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Marchionne affirmed Thursday that the automaker could reach profitability in 24 months. Just a week before, the CEO contended that “we’re not bleeding as people think we are,” noting that “the level of cost consciousness at this house is probably at a historical high.”

Some had been speculating that Chrysler might not make it another year given its challenges in the market. Marchionne had fueled some of the negative speculation when he said in September that the situation at Chrysler was “worse than we thought.”

Marchionne has an incredible track record as a turnaround specialist, but Chrysler will present the ultimate challenge. The acquisition could be a stroke of genius, as Fiat paid nothing and now owns 20% of the company with full control in exchange for the contribution of small-car technology. Fiat dominates with small cars and this offer it the opportunity to return to America. They also have Alfa Romeo which presents an upscale brand.

That said, it was reported recently that there would be a new push to turn Chrysler into an upscale brand positioned a notch above Lincoln and Cadillac. As noted by many analysts, that seems like a real stretch. Chrysler is a mess, so now consumers are supposed to start paying a premium for their cars?

In any event, it’s refreshing to hear some optimism coming from Marchionne. Hopefully he can back it up.

  

GM will threaten bankruptcy if it doesn’t get more aid

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The auto bailout helped to keep GM and Chrysler on life support, but GM will make it clear in it’s plan to be filed this week with the government that more money will be needed in order to avert bankruptcy.

General Motors Corp. will offer the government the choice of giving it billions more in bailout money or seeing it file for bankruptcy when it presents a restructuring plan next week, according to a report published Saturday.

The online edition of The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said the competing choices present a dilemma for the Obama administration, which may fear seeing the industrial icon carmaker fall into bankruptcy and cut more jobs if it’s refused more aid.

The government has already committed $13.4 billion to GM as part of a federally-funded bailout. The automaker is expected to include its call for more funds in a restructuring plan it’s required to submit to the Treasury Department by Tuesday, though the company isn’t expected to include a dollar amount, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

However, Treasury Department officials believe GM needs at least $5 billion more in loans to keep operating beyond the first quarter, according to the report.

The key will be the plan laid out by GM. Will it have real concessions from bondholders and the union?

  

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