MILAN, April 26 (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) erased more debt in the first quarter than expected, putting the group on course to become cash positive by the end of this year, and confirmed its full year targets.
The world's seventh-largest carmaker said net debt fell to 1.3 billion euros ($1.6 billion) by the end of March, compared with a forecast of 2.6 billion euros in a Thomson Reuters poll.
The Italian-American group said first-quarter operating profit rose 5 percent to 1.61 billion euros, slightly below an analysts consensus forecast of 1.74 billion euros.
Shares fell immediately after the release but quickly recovered and were up 1.6 percent at 19.44 euros by 1049 GMT.
$1 = 0.8214 euros Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Valentina Za