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Ford is finally back to black

Steve Dinneen
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FORD raced back to black as it announced full-year earnings of $2.7bn (£1.7bn) yesterday.

The result is the first profit the troubled car maker has reported since 2005. The business now expects to make a make a “solid” profit over the next two years despite a slow recovery in US car sales.

Revenue for the full year was $118.3bn, a decline of $19.8bn from 2008.

It posted a fourth quarter earnings of $868m, or 25 cents a share. This was in stark contrast to 2008, when the car giant reported a loss of $6bn, or $2.51 a share.

Final quarter revenue rose 22 per cent from $29bn to $35.4bn but the growth in earnings was largely down to cost cutting measures.

Ford lost a staggering $30bn between 2006 and 2008, including a record net loss of $14.7bn in 2008. It ended the year with total automotive debt of $34.3bn, up from $26.9bn at the end of the third quarter.

The positive results will see Ford workers receive their first profit sharing payment since 2004 – totalling $450 for each of the firm’s 43,000 eligible staff.

Investors will be encouraged by the forthcoming sale of Volvo, now Ford’s only loss-making division with an operating deficit of $32m, most likely to Chinese automaker Geely.

The iconic car maker expects the slow recovery in the global automotive market to continue.
It projected US sales of 11.5 to 12.5m units.

The US car industry was decimated by the recession and the government provided $17.4bn of Tarp money to General Motors and Chrysler, amid fears that the failure of one company could have a knock on effect and drag the entire industry down.

Ford president and chief executive Alan Mulally said: “While we still face significant business environment challenges ahead, 2009 was a pivotal year for Ford and the strongest proof yet that our plan is working and that we are forging a path toward profitable growth.”