Fiat Chrysler Profit: Checks for UAW

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Automaker Fiat Chrysler saw net profit jump to 1.81 billion euros ($1.92 billion) last year as a more profitable model mix and lower costs helped overcome a sales decline in North American markets.

The improvement in the company's fortunes will put more cash in 40,000 U.S. workers' pockets as the company declared an average profit-sharing bonus of $5,000.

That money will go to eligible employees represented by the United Auto Workers union.

The 2016 result improves on a bare 93 million euro profit in 2015.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Thursday that stronger profit margins helped its business in the U.S. and Canada despite fewer cars being sold due to the phase-out of the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart. The company said savings on purchasing helped boost earnings there.

Profit margins in its U.S. and Canada business increased to 7.4 percent from 6.4 percent. That is a key figure for automakers, reflecting how much they are able to earn per vehicle. Sales revenue actually fell in the region, but profits rose due to a more profitable vehicle mix.

The company showed improvements in the highly competitive European market, where it increased its share of sales by 0.4 percentage points.

Profits also jumped at its luxury Maserati brand.

For the fourth quarter of 2016, global net profit more than doubled to 409 million euros from 196 million in the same quarter a year earlier.