Shares of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) had a rough ride on Thursday, after the automaker reported a record profit -- followed by disappointing guidance for 2019. FCA's shares closed in New York at $15.23 on Thursday, down 12.25% from Wednesday's closing price.
FCA had some nice things to brag about in its 2018 earnings report. Good sales of high-profit Jeeps and the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 pickup powered a 19% profit gain in North America, and FCA bucked the industry trend of losses in South America by reporting a nice profit in that region as well. While a downturn in China, pricing pressures in Europe, and a big sales slump at Maserati took tolls, FCA still managed a 3% improvement over 2017's record profit.
That was the good news. The less-good news is that FCA's guidance for 2019 fell short of Wall Street's expectations. Analysts had expected that continued strong Jeep demand and new heavy-duty pickups would give FCA a significant profit boost.
But the company hedged its bets. FCA's 2019 forecast did say that operating income and margin would be better than 2018's result, though it didn't say by how much. But it also said that earnings per share could decline from 2018, and that improvements in Europe, in China, and at Maserati weren't likely until the second half of 2019, at the earliest.
FCA said that it will provide updated guidance as the year unfolds, and as it gets more clarity around the Brexit situation in Europe and the prospects for China's auto market.