(Adds details on product testing from analyst call)
MILAN, Nov 5 (Reuters) - CNH Industrial said its joint venture with U.S. Nikola would begin testing an electric truck this quarter, as the Italian firm notched up forecast beating results and raised earnings guidance on Thursday.
Chief Executive Suzanne Heywood said testing of first prototypes of the Nikola Tre electric truck would start this quarter and production was on track to start in the fourth quarter of next year.
Heywood said that CNH’s joint venture with Nikola would start a testing process shortly after for hydrogen trucks, with production commencing in late 2023.
The Milan-listed shares closed up 5%, versus a 1.9% for Italy’s blue-chip index FTSE MIB.
Shares in Nikola on Thursday were set for their best trading session in nearly a month. The electric and fuel cell vehicle maker remains in talks about a similar truck partnership with GM .
CNH Industrial, which makes farm machinery, Iveco commercial vehicles, construction equipment and powertrains also reported on Thursday that adjusted operating profit (EBIT) from industrial activities fell 16% from a year earlier in the July-September period to $238 million, well above a $61 million forecast in an analyst poll compiled by Reuters.
“Results were positively impacted by a general improvement, versus the first half of 2020, in market demand across most of our businesses and countries and, in particular, in the agriculture sector in North America,” Heywood said.
“The combination of truck retail performance in the quarter and solid order books across segments makes us cautiously optimistic for the fourth quarter,” she told analysts.
The group said sales from industrial activities would fall between 10% and 15% this year, versus previous guidance for a drop of 15%-20%. Free cash flow from industrial activities is now seen at $400-$700 million for the full year, versus a previous projection of a negative result.
Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; editing by Kirsten Donovan and Elaine Hardcastle
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.