Ford proves once again that it is on the fast track to profitability.
Sean Welch - CleanMPG
- November 2, 2009
There is still a fire of innovation in Detroit.
Ford Motor Co. (F) reported a third-quarter profit Monday and said it would be "solidly profitable" in 2011 on cost cutting and a turnaround in its North American business.
The North American unit recorded its first operating profit in more than four years, helped by higher pricing and market share, though Ford warned that the end of government incentives in Europe market could severely dent industry sales next year.
The company reported a third-quarter profit of $997 million, or 29 cents a share, beating market expectations. This compared with a year-ago loss of $161 million, or 7 cents a share. The company's key North America automotive unit also posted a pretax profit of $357 million, and the positive cash flow of $1.3 billion in the third quarter compared with a $7.7 million cash burn in the same period a year ago.
The back-to-back quarterly profit provides the first real evidence that Ford may have turned the financial corner and will meet its goal of turning a full-year profit in 2011.
The Dearborn, Mich., auto maker changed its full-year 2011 guidance for the total company and its North America operations from being "breakeven or better" to "solidly profitable" on a pretax basis excluding special items with positive automotive operating-related cash flow.
Difficult challenges still remain in the fourth quarter and the start of 2010. Government-backed incentives, which sparked sales around the world, including the U.S. and Germany, are now over. The economic recession is slowing the company's recovery in the U.S. while pushing sales to historic lows in Russia.
"While the company has confidence that the global economy will be improving, the near-term growth outlook remains rather uncertain," Ford said in a statement. "Looking at 2010 there is a high likelihood of a substantial decrease in European industry volumes. This decrease could more than offset U.S. sales volumes which may improve somewhat from this past quarter's results."
Ford has culled billions in dollars of costs from its expense base, but the U.S. United Auto Workers are expected to announce Monday a rejection of contract concessions by the union's rank and file.
Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said the near-term outlook remains challenging an the company won???t know the full-impact of sales without the scrappage programs until next year.
Still, Booth expects the auto maker to report a positive cash flow in the fourth quarter and he expects Ford Credit to remain profitable during the last three months of the year.
He declined to comment on the UAW contacts and said the company is in "strong talks" to sell its Volvo unit.
Ford's shares were up 4.2% at $7.30 in premarket trade.