Robust Auto Sales Propel Ford's North American Profits to a Record


  • 2013 Ford Fusion Picture

    2013 Ford Fusion Picture

    Strong sales of products like the 2013 Ford Fusion helped to boost Ford's North American profits to a record. | April 24, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Strong sales of new models like the Ford Fusion and Escape helped to push Ford's North American profits to a record, as the automaker reported first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.
  • Ford reported first-quarter net income of $1.6 billion, an increase of $215 million compared with a year ago.
  • North American pre-tax operating profit was a record $2.4 billion, the highest quarterly profit since 2000, when the company began reporting North American results as a separate business unit.

DEARBORN, Michigan — Strong sales of new models like the Ford Fusion and Escape helped to push Ford's North American profits to a record, as the automaker reported first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

Ford reported first-quarter net income of $1.6 billion, an increase of $215 million compared with a year ago.

North American pretax operating profit was a record $2.4 billion, the highest quarterly profit since at least 2000, when the company began reporting North American results as a separate business unit.

"Ford's best-ever quarter in North America came on the strength of higher volume of vehicle sales, especially of new models like the Ford Fusion and Ford Escape buttressed by the venerable Ford F-Series pickups and Ford Explorer SUV, which pushed up market share," said Michelle Krebs, Edmunds.com senior analyst. "In addition, Ford is fetching top dollar on those sales as consumers buy the high-end trim levels and load their Fords with equipment."

Ford reported that the Fusion is doing well in markets where it typically underperforms, such as on the coasts and in the Southeast.

Ford's rosy North American results were tempered by deeper losses in Europe. Ford's pretax operating loss in Europe increased to $462 million in the first quarter of 2013 from $149 million in the first quarter of 2012.

"The decline in Ford Europe's first quarter pretax results reflected higher structural costs, including restructuring effects (principally accelerated depreciation), and higher pension expense due to lower discount rates," said Ford in a statement. "Market factors and exchange also were unfavorable."

Ford said it still expects a 2013 loss in Europe of about $2 billion. The company characterized the outlook for the business environment in Europe as "uncertain."

The overall mood at Ford appeared to be upbeat, despite ongoing European woes.

"We continue to expect 2013 to be another strong year, as we go further in strengthening our global product lineup and improving the competitiveness of our operations," said Alan Mulally, Ford CEO, in a statement.

Edmunds says: Ford gets off to a strong start in 2013, as it targets its fifth straight year of profit.

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