Chrysler Corp. reported a massive, record three-month loss of nearly $120 million for the first quarter of 1978 yesterday, but the auto maker's two top executives were surprisingly up-tempo while presenting those glum results.
Chrysler lost $119.8 million ($1.98 a share) in the first quarter on sales of $4 billion compared with 75.4 million ($1.25) on almost exactly the same dollar sales a year earlier.
The current loss handly topped the previous Chrysler record three-month deficit of $94.1 million (1.58) set in the same period three years ago.
Chrysler Chairman John Riccardo and President Eugene Cafiero attributed the losses to the heavy costs of starting production of their new Omni and Horizon subcompacts here and in France, large on-going product development programs, bad weather, and a decline in the economy nationally.
The Chrysler executives predicted, however, they would be in the black and show a slight profit for the full year unless something unforeseen goes wrong. Riccardo said "we didn't get our momentum back" but "we're pleased with April" when new car sales penetration returned above 15 percent in both 10 day periods.
He also said he would stick with his earlier prediction of about 15 million new car and truck sales for the year.
Asked whether he would guarantee no more new car price increases as the president of the United Auto Workers asked earlier in the Week, Riccardo said, "I think the auto companies have shown more restraint than any other industry." Since 1971, the company has had unrecovered cost increases of $500 to $600 per car, he said.
On a variety of other topics, the Chrysler executive said:
A decision on the dividend will be made at the board meeting within a week.
Chrysler probably will introduce airbags and passive seatbelts in a limited way one year earlier than required by law.
President Carter should "look at J.F. Kennedy" and what his first tax cut did for the economy. Riccardo said he would support an even larger tax cut than the president is seeking.
News services also reported the following corporate carnings. :
Three more large oil companies reported first-quarter earnings yeaterday, with the results mirroring the mixed picture drawn by previous reports from other companies.
Mobil Corp., the nation's second largest oil firm, said first-quarter 1978 earnings increased to $241 million ($2.28 a share) from $219 million ($2.07) in 1977. Revenues were $8.7 billion against $8.1 billion last year.
Part of the increase was attributed to improved earnings by Montgomery Ward, the large retail operation that is a Mobil's earnings was $8 million for the first three months of 1978 compared with $5 million in the same period of 1977.
Standard Oil Co. of California, meanwhile, reported flat earnings of $228.6 million ($1.34 a share) for the first quarter against $224 million (also $1.34) for 19tt. Revenues were $5.7 billion against $5.4 billion.
Officials of the nation's fourth-largest oil company said earnings were affected adversely by increased exploration expenses.
The Sun Co., the 11th-largest U.S. oil firm, said its first quarter earnings were down to $76.5 million ($1.31 a share) from $81.4 million ($1.38) Revenues were $1.7 billion compared with $1.5 billion.
H. Robert Sharbaugh, Sun's chairman, blamed much of the reduction on foreign currency losses and predicted that full-year results "will compare favorably" with 1977 figures.
Xerox Corp., the large manufacturer of office copier machines, yesterday reported a 15 percent rise in profits for the first quarter.
Profits totalled $105.6 million ($1.31 a share) on sales of $1.35 billion compared with a 1977 first-quarter profit of $91.6 million ($1.14) on sales of $1.20 billion.
Xerox said rental and service revenue rose 6 percent, while revenue from the sale of copiers and duplicators; supplies and other products climbed 37 percent. The number of copies made on leased equipment increased by 9 percent despite bad weather in the U.S. during January and February.
National Steel Corp's first-quarter earnings dropped 52 percent to $2.4 million from $5 million earned in ther first three months of 1977, the nation's third-largest steel maker said yesterday.
The latest quarterly earnings amount to 13 cents a share compared with 26 cents a year ago.
At the annual shareholders meeting in Pittsburg, National Steel Chairman George Stinson blamed the decline on the coal strike, a severe winter and a heavy proportion of low margin tin mill product shipments as customers tried to beat price rises that took effect March 1 and April 2.
First-quarter sales and revenues totaled $846.3 million compared with $751 million for the same 1977 period.
Shipments for the quarter amounted to 2 million tons compared with 1.9 million tons a year ago.
Asked if the steel industry will implement a third round of price increases this year. Stinson said, "To the extent we are not able to escape the impact of inflation by (cost cutting) programs, we will find it necessary to consider further pricing action to offset rising costs."
He said 1978 capital expenditures would be "somewhat, but not a great deal, below" the $161.7 million spent in 1977.
First-quarter profits increased by 21 percent from their 1977 levels to give American Broadcasting Cos. its ninth sucessive quarter of improved earnings, the entertainment company said yesterday. Sales were 16 per cent higher.
ABC earned $22.9 million ($1.26 a share) on $437.3 million in sales during the latest period compared with $18.9 million ($1.05) in the 1977 first quarter on $378 million in sales.
Chairman Leonard Goldenson and President Elton Rule said broadcasting operations were the principal contributors. The ABC Television Network set profits and sales records, and ABC Radio components recorded sales marks, although profits of FM operations declined.
Anheuser-Busch Inc. reported record sales and earnings for the first quarter.
August Busch III, chairman and president, told the company's annual stockholders meeting yesterday that first-quarter beer sales of 9.2 million barrels was record, 15.1 percent more than volume for the first three months of 1977.
First-quarter net income rose to $20.4 million (45 cents share), an increase of 15.6 percent from the $17.7 million (39cents) earned in the 1977 first quarter. Revenues were $572.9 million compared with $477.9 million last year.