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Fiat Chrysler shares fluctuate as company starts trading on New York Stock Exchange

A specialist prepares for the day's trading on

A specialist prepares for the day's trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Oct. 13, 2014. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles began trading as the newly merged company seeks to raise its profile. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

DETROIT - Shares of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles jumped as the market opened Monday, but fell in the morning and were nearly flat at midday after making their debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

The newly merged company's stock, trading under the symbol FCAU, opened at $9 and rose quickly to $9.55 before falling to $8.91, or 1 percent in morning trading. By midday, however, they recovered to $8.99, down just a penny.

At noon Tuesday on Wall Street, FCAU shares were at $9.

The company said it is trading on the NYSE to raise its profile and give U.S. investors a chance to own part of the Chrysler comeback story. The stock will also trade in Milan, Italy.

"FCA's listing marks the hard-won arrival at a destination," Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both companies, said in a statement. He and chairman John Elkann were to ring the closing bell Monday at the NYSE to commemorate the first day of trading. "Today marks the beginning of our journey as one global automaker, one FCA," the statement said.

Chrysler is now profitable, driven by a rebound in U.S. sales, five years after a trip through bankruptcy and a takeover by Fiat orchestrated by the U.S. government. But that performance is offset by Fiat's struggles in Europe. Fiat Chrysler is the seventh-largest auto company in the world, and Marchionne wanted the merger to consolidate costs and technology to compete with larger global automakers.

Fiat Chrysler has an ambitious goal to grow sales 60 percent to more than 7 million cars and trucks by 2018. Combined, the companies sold 4.4 million cars and trucks last year, compared with 6.3 million for Detroit rival Ford. Toyota was the global leader with sales of 9.98 million vehicles.

Only a limited number of shares went on sale Monday, mainly from Italian stockholders. The company released details of a new share structure Monday, swapping Fiat SpA shares one-for-one for stock in the new company. The company also holds 35 million shares and could sell them later in the year after Marchionne and Chrysler chief financial officer Richard Palmer do a "road show" explaining plans for the merged automaker. Additional shares also could be offered to raise capital.

In an interview, Morningstar senior analyst Richard Hilgert said Fiat Chrysler faces macroeconomic troubles in Europe and South America, its two largest markets outside the United States. Also, earnings likely will look smaller as the company switches from international to U.S. accounting standards, he said.

"Fiat Chrysler's stock is not for the faint of heart," Morningstar said in a note to investors.

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