MILAN -- Fiat narrowed its operating loss to 97 million euros ($124 million) in the third quarter from 285 million a year ago but its car arm continued to fall short of analysts' forecasts.
Fiat Auto's loss shrank to 270 million euros from 314 million in the third quarter of 2003, Fiat said in a statement on Thursday, but the result was worse than the 250 million euros forecast by a Reuters poll of 11 analysts.
Fiat reiterated that Fiat Auto, which accounts for 42 percent of group revenues, should narrow its operating loss in 2004. It aims to push into operating profit in 2006 under a plan to pull the 105-year-old group clear of its worst crisis.
Group revenues rose 8.2 percent year-on-year to 10.648 billion euros while turnover at Fiat Auto rose 8.1 percent to 4.491 billion euros thanks to new models. In unit terms, sales were up 11 percent to 402,500 cars and vans sold.
Fiat's other main arms both boosted their revenues and profits.
Truck and bus unit Iveco posted an operating profit of 76 million euros against a loss of 2 million a year ago, beating analysts' forecasts of profit of 64 million euros. Revenues rose 16 percent to 2.1 billion euros.
Ferrari's operating profit shrank to 2 million euros from 9 million due to high restructuring costs and a strong euro which squeezes the value of sales in dollars.
Group net loss for July-September came in at 554 million euros against a loss of 84 million a year earlier.
Net debt was 5.5 billion euros at the end of September, up from 4.3 billion at the end of June while gross debt was 20.6 billion euros.