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Family business roundup: Profits down at Ford, up at America Movil, Fiat and VW

By Giulia Cambieri

Ford Motor Company, the US carmaker controlled by the founding Ford family, saw its profits plummet during the first three months of 2012, while three other family businesses have posted strong quarterly results.

Michigan-based Ford said on 27 April that pre-tax operating profit dropped by 17.9% to $2.3 billion (€1.7 billion) for the first quarter of the year, from $2.8 billion for the same period the year before. This was due to "weaker economic conditions in Europe", the company said in a statement. 

Revenues at the group, chaired by fourth-generation Bill Ford, also fell by 2.11% to $32.4 billion.

In contrast, telecommunications giant America Movil, controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and his family, said on 26 March that revenues increased by around 13% to 192 billion Mexican pesos (€11 billion) during the first quarter of 2012.

Pre-tax profit at the Mexico City–based group was 67.5 billion Mexican pesos for the three months ending March, up 6.3% from the same quarter in the previous year.

Across the Atlantic, Fiat, the Italian carmaker controlled by the Agnelli family, posted record revenues of €20.2 billion for the first 2012 quarter – an enormous increase of 119.6%.

The Turin-based firm, chaired by fifth–generation chairman John Elkann, also said pre-tax profit rose by 129.8% to €1.93 billion.

However, growth at the family business was largely driven by Chrysler, the American automaker acquired by Fiat last year. Excluding Chrysler, which was included in Fiat’s results for the first time at the end of the third quarter of 2011, Fiat had sales and pre-tax profit of €8.7 billion and €550 million respectively – down 5.4% and 34.5% from the same period last year.

Fellow family-controlled car manufacturer Volkswagen also reported strong quarterly results. The group, which is controlled by the Porsche and Piech families, said on 26 April that pre-tax profit rose 93.4% during the first quarter of the year to €4.3 billion, from €2.2 billion in the previous year.

Revenues at the German group, which sold 2.3 million cars during the three-month period,  were €47.3 billion, up by 26.3%.