DETROIT -- Chrysler, the smallest of the American automakers, said Wednesday that its profit in 2012 soared to $1.66 billion -- about nine times as much as the $183 million it earned previous year.

The dramatic increase underscored the company's comeback from its government bailout and bankruptcy in 2009, when it was taken over by the Italian automaker Fiat.

In the fourth quarter alone, Chrysler said it earned $378 million, a 68 percent increase from $225 million in the same period in 2011. Revenue in the quarter was $17.1 billion, a 13 percent gain from $15.1 billion a year earlier.

"Chrysler concluded a very successful 2012 with a robust fourth-quarter performance," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with the auto research site TrueCar.com. "The company was the only domestic automaker to gain market share last year."

Chrysler also benefited from having little exposure to the deepening economic crisis in Europe, where vehicle sales have fallen to the lowest levels in about 20 years.

The European problems, however, took a heavy toll on profits at Fiat, Chrysler's parent company.

Without Chrysler, Fiat said it would have lost 1.04 billion euros in 2012. But Chrysler's results helped Fiat earn a profit for 2012 of 1.41 billion euros, a 26 percent improvement over the 1.33 billion euros that Fiat earned the previous year.


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In the fourth quarter, Fiat reported a profit of 388 million euros. Without Chrysler's contributions, it would have lost 241 million euros.

Fiat owns a 58.5 percent stake in Chrysler. As of the middle of last year, Fiat consolidated Chrysler's results into the parent company's overall performance.

Chrysler, meanwhile, said its revenue for the year was $65.7 billion, a 19 percent improvement from $54.9 billion in 2011.

For the year, its global vehicle sales increased to 2.2 million, an 18 percent increase from 1.9 million the prior year, and its market share in the United States improved to 11.2 percent, up from 10.5 percent a year earlier.

Sergio Marchionne, who is chief executive of both Chrysler and Fiat, said the turnaround at Chrysler is gaining momentum because of solid sales of core products such as the Ram pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

"We pause for a moment to enjoy our accomplishments, but we will not stop," Marchionne said in a statement.

Marchionne forecast continued improvement for Chrysler this year. He said the company expects net income of $2.2 billion in 2013, on revenue of $72 billion or higher.

Chrysler's 2011 earnings were depressed by $551 million in payments to the U.S. and Canadian governments to retire debt associated with its bailout.