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Chrysler 3rd-period profit drops 46% to $354 million Low minivan production, customer rebates blamed


HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. -- Chrysler Corp.'s third-quarter earnings fell 46 percent because of lower minivan production, rebates to customers and a plunge in sales in Mexico, the company said yesterday.

Chrysler earned $354 million, or 91 cents a share, compared with $651 million, or $1.76 a share, a year ago.

The results include a $31 million charge for cutting a work shift at its Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid assembly plant in Newark, Del., the company said.

The automaker's earnings without the charge would have been slightly above analysts expectations of 93 cents a share, based on a survey of 13 analysts by Zacks Investment Research.

Chrysler's earnings fell far short of last year's record results as automakers try to slow production and reduce inventories to match projected North American sales this year of 14.8 million vehicles, compared with 15.1 million last year.

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are expected next week to report third-quarter earnings about half the size of last year's results.

Chrysler's production costs hindered earnings, because a plant that builds the new minivan in Windsor, Ontario, won't reach full production until the end of the fourth quarter, and because the company absorbed $100 million from launching its new Dodge Ram truck and minivans.

More car loans and lower operating costs boosted the bottom line of Chrysler Financial Corp. Chrysler's financial arm reported record third-quarter earnings of $87 million, compared with $50 million in the third quarter 1994.

For the nine months, the company's net income fell to $1.08 billion, or $2.82 a share, compared with $2.55 billion, or $6.92, for the first nine months of 1994.

Revenue rose to $38.1 billion from $38 billion.

Chrysler shares closed up 12.5 cents, at $52.75, in trading of 949,000 shares, less than half its three-month daily average of 1.9 million shares.

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