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Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) Fined $40M for Inflating Sales Numbers

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCAU - Free Report) has agreed to pay $40-million penalty to the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) for misleading investors by inflating monthly sales figure over five years (from 2012 to 2016).

The SEC noticed that Fiat Chrysler violated the reporting and internal accounting control provisions of the Securities Exchange Act, 1934, and the anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act, 1933.

The company inflated its new-vehicle sales by paying dealers to report fake sales numbers.

Dealers would also maintain a database of unreported sales throughout the previously-mentioned period, in which sales would be good, termed internally as “cookie jar”. During months of low sales, Fiat Chrysler would dip into the “cookie jar” and report old sales. The settlement order filed by the SEC stated that the company used 7,000 sales from the cookie jar in September 2013 and 12,000 sales in May 2016.

Through this practice, Fiat Chrysler overstated sales numbers and reported an unbroken streak of growth in months between 2012 and 2016, while in reality, the streak ended in September 2013.

In July 2016, Fiat Chrysler changed more than 60 months of sales numbers to adhere to the new reporting method.

The payment of the $40-million penalty will not have a significant impact on the company’s financial statements.

In May 2019, Fiat Chrysler U.S Sales chief Reid Bigland sued the company as it withheld his 90% compensation for 2018 for cooperating with the federal probe.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Fiat Chrysler currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A few  better-ranked stocks in the Auto-Tires-Trucks sector are Douglas Dynamics, Inc. (PLOW - Free Report) , presently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) as well as Lithia Motors (LAD - Free Report) and SPX Corp. (SPXC - Free Report) , carrying a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Lithia Motors has an expected earnings growth rate of 12.8% for 2019. The company’s shares have gained 73.4% year to date.

Douglas Dynamics has an expected earnings growth rate of 11.7% for 2019. The company’s shares have gained 24.2% year to date.

SPX has an estimated earnings growth rate of 22.7% for the ongoing year. Its shares have gained 42.8% year to date.

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