Ford profit falls on one-off charge but sales rise

US carmaker Ford has said its sales rose in the third quarter, helping it to beat market forecasts despite booking a slight fall in profits.

Ford’s third quarter net profit fell two per cent to $1.65bn (£1bn) compared with the same period in 2010, while earnings per share were $0.41, down from $0.43 in the quarter before.

But the profit fall came after Ford booked a $350m non-cash charge after it misjudging the threat of higher commodity prices, hedging against price rises when they subsequently fell.

Excluding the charge, it earned $0.46 per share, beating analyst expectations, while the group’s revenue rose 14 per cent to $33.1bn.

But it still sustained losses in its European and Asian operations and gave no indication of re-starting its dividend payments, which have been on hold since 2006.

Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth told reporters Ford would not address the timing of a dividend. He said growth in North America remained on a slow upward trend.

"We've been saying for the last several quarters, we never expected to see a classic V-shaped recovery," he said.

Ford took an operating loss of $306m in Europe, compared with a loss of $196m a year ago. In Asia and Africa, Ford reported a pre-tax operating loss of $43m compared with a profit of $30m a year ago.

"In Europe, it's more problematic," Booth said. "We could be in a period of very slow growth as the sovereign debt crisis gets resolved and we see the fiscal austerity programs working their way through the economies.