Revenue for carmaker Stellantis (STLA.MI) rose 12% in the first three months of the year, beating market expectations as strong pricing and the type of vehicles sold helped offset the impact of the semiconductor shortage on volumes.
Milan-listed shares in the company, the product of a merger last year of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot maker PSA, jumped as much as 5% in early trade, among the best performers on Italy's blue-chip index By 0850 GMT they were up 1.6%.
Net revenues rose to 41.5 billion euros ($44.1 billion) in the January-March period from 37.0 billion euro pro-forma sales a year earlier for the world's fourth largest carmaker, Stellantis said on Thursday.
The result topped analyst expectations of 36.9 billion euros.
The impact of the chip crunch was however evident in the decline in shipment figures which fell 12% in the quarter to 1.374 million vehicles. It was a similar story for Germany's BMW which posted higher revenues on Thursday and a decline in car sales.
Stellantis, whose brands also include Citroen, Opel, Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, confirmed its 2022 forecasts for a double-digit adjusted operating income margin and a positive cash-flow despite supply and inflationary headwinds.
Under Chief Executive Carlos Tavares, the group reported an above-target margin on its adjusted operating profit of 11.8% last year, thanks to strong execution on synergies.
Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report released after the results that Stellantis had better management than many peers. The group was also benefiting from its significant exposure to a stronger U.S. economy and a European post-COVID re-opening, while it was less affected by a slowing Chinese economy, they added.
Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer said it was important for the group to maintain double-digit margins and keep delivering positive cash flows. "A 12 percent increase in revenue with a 12 percent decrease in volumes indicates a very strong performance on price and mix which augurs well for our margin performance,".
Total new vehicle inventories were almost unchanged at the end of the quarter, Stellantis said. "Inventories at dealers remain low, allowing (Stellantis) to maintain a positive price power," Equita analyst Martino De Ambroggi said.
What Stellantis calls the "Enlarged Europe" region, which includes Russia and other Eurasian countries, took the largest hit in terms of volumes, with first-quarter shipments down 24% compared to last year. Palmer said he expected semiconductor supply would gradually improve this year and continue in 2023.
"But honestly I cannot give a date for when they (supply problems) are solved," he said.
The company trimmed its industry-wide outlook for this year for the North American market, now seen flat, and for Enlarged Europe, now expected to contract by 2% in 2022. Palmer said Stellantis had no significant exposure to Russia both commercially and in supply chain terms. "We don't have a large supply base in Eastern Europe unlike other competitors, the impact was not significant in the quarter," he said. ($1 = 0.9422 euros)
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