Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE:FCAU) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Feb 07, 2019 • 08:00 am ET


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE:FCAU) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Good afternoon and good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to today's Group results for 2018 Full Year Conference Call. For your information, today's conference is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the call over to Joe Veltri, Head of FCA Global Investor Relations, Mr. Veltri, please go ahead, sir.

Joe Veltri

Thank you, Tara. And welcome to everyone joining us today as we review FCA's full year 2018 results. You will find today's presentation material along with the related earnings release posted under the Investors Section of FCA's Group website. Our call today will be hosted by Mike Manley, the Group's Chief Executive Officer; and Richard Palmer, our Chief Financial Officer.

After their presentation, we will be holding the customary question-and-answer session. But before we begin, I just want to point out that any forward-looking statements that might be made during today's call are subject to the risks and uncertainties that are noted in the Safe Harbor statement, which is included on Page 2 of today's presentation deck. And as always, the call will be governed by that language.

With that, I want to turn the call over to Mike Manley.

Michael Manley

Thank you, Joe. Hello, everyone. Well, 2018 was an extraordinary year for FCA in many ways I believe it represents an inflection point for our Company. So to begin with, we delivered another record-breaking year of earnings and generated significant industrial free cash flow enabling us to end the year for the first time cash positive. And after achieved a record performance with adjusted EBIT up 19% and margin to a new high of 8.6%. LATAM more than doubled margin and EBIT year-over-year and we've reached new global sales records for both Jeep and Ram brands.

2018 was also a year we strengthened our business in other ways as well. The agreement to sell Magneti Marelli allows us to strengthen our balance sheet and to make a distribution to our shareholders. They will provide more capital stability and flexibility for the Group and importantly, it provides a secure and exciting future for Magneti Marelli and its employees.

Now during the year, we completed the most complex and intensive phase of our NAFTA capacity realignment plan for the launch of the all-new Ram light-duty pickup in our Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

And in the mobility space, we strengthened our partnership with Waymo and the agreement to provide additional Pacifica minivans for conversion to autonomous vehicles. And in addition to that, we confirmed our cooperation with BMW to develop autonomous driving technologies.

Now, eliminating our net debt in turning cash positive allows us to stop paying regular dividends in addition to a special dividend in 2019. This is a significant milestone as the last time we distributed the dividend was nearly a decade ago. So you're accustomed to FCA telling it like it is, we'll also know, well that practice is not changing. So you will see here that we've learned some lessons in 2018 and encountered some new