BERLIN - After six consecutive negative quarters, the Chrysler group will report a "slightly positive" operating profit for the just-ended first quarter, DaimlerChrysler Chairman Juergen Schrempp promised more than 10,000 shareholders at the company's annual shareholder meeting here last week.
"We have met our milestone targets in 2001 and believe we can achieve break-even at Chrysler in 2002," Schrempp said. "We try to limit incentives on Chrysler products as much as possible. Earnings, not market share, is our highest priority."
Schrempp didn't elaborate, and his message was greeted by skepticism from shareholders. Shareholders said they are concerned Chrysler's marketing costs in the hyper-competitive U.S. market will eat up whatever savings come from cost cutting and productivity improvements.
In February 2001, Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche announced a three-year restructuring plan that included closing six or seven assembly plants and cutting almost 26,000 jobs. Zetsche said the program would allow Chrysler to break even or earn a small profit in 2002 and earn $2 billion to $2.5 billion by 2003.