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Chrysler's surge fails to impress

NEW YORK - Chrysler and Citicorp reported strong growth in earnings for the first quarter yesterday but none the less managed to disappoint Wall Street, writes Larry Black.

Chrysler, on the point of bankruptcy three years ago, turned in its best quarter ever, making dollars 938m after tax, compared with dollars 530m the previous year. Dealers were 'ordering as many vehicles as we can build', said Robert Eaton, Chrysler's chief executive. As a result the third-ranking US car maker would begin significant hiring over the next three years, he said.

Wall Street has come to count on Chrysler exceeding its own earnings-per-share forecasts, as it did yesterday for the eighth consecutive quarter. But its fully diluted profit for the period, dollars 2.30, was only three cents above Wall Street's average and speculation had driven Chrysler shares several dollars above that value.

By mid-afternoon in New York the car maker's shares were trading off 21 4 at dollars 487 8 .

Citicorp suffered a similar fate despite showing a 67 per cent rise in operating earnings and reinstating the quarterly dividend suspended amid huge lending losses in 1992.

America's largest bank holding company earned dollars 609m, or dollars 1.12 a share fully diluted, compared with dollars 370m, or 67 cents, during the first three months of 1993.