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Fiat says Americas, Asia to support 2013 targets

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne poses after the presentation of the new LaFerrari hybrid car on the Ferrari stand during the first media day of t
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne poses after the presentation of the new LaFerrari hybrid car on the Ferrari stand during the first media day of t

TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Italian carmaker Fiat does not expect to revise its 2013 targets, although it may become more reliant on growth in the Americas and Asia amid weak European markets, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

"I don't think we'll need to change our targets over all," Sergio Marchionne said at a shareholders' meeting.

"The geographical distribution could change, given the performance of Europe," he added.

Marchionne said markets in North America, Latin America and Asia were growing.

Europe's car market, in contrast, is set to remain weak in 2013 after 5 years of sales falls as governments drive through austerity measures to rein in their debts.

Euro zone unemployment in February was at a record high of 12 percent. Italian car sales fell 19.8 percent in 2012, and are set to fall more in 2013.

Marchionne said he would update investors on Fiat's full-year 2013 targets when the world's seventh-largest automaker releases first-quarter results on April 29.

Fiat's U.S. unit Chrysler posted earnings before interest and tax of 2.7 billion euros last year, offsetting a loss for Fiat's mass-market brands of 738 million euros in Europe.

Fiat sees sales at 88 billion-92 billion euros this year, with more than half from North America, and expects to sell 4.3 million-4.5 million cars.

Credit Suisse analyst David Arnold thinks the carmaker is likely to have to cut its goals when it is forced to retreat from its forecast of a European market fall of just 2 percent.

Arnold said the bank's own prediction of a 5 percent contraction "will probably still be too optimistic".

"Earnings forecasts at Fiat are going down and will continue to do so," the London-based analyst said in a note to investors. Credit Suisse sees Fiat's European losses widening to 750 million euros this year, before interest and tax.

Fiat shares were up 1.4 percent at 4.028 euros at 0755 am EDT.

(The story corrects paragraph 9 to say Fiat expects to sell 4.3-4.5 million, not billion, cars in 2013)

(Reporting by Jennifer Clark and Laurence Frost; Editing by Silvia Aloisi and Mark Potter)

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