Ford profit tops forecasts as US revenues shine

FORD Motors recorded a higher-than-expected first-quarter profit yesterday as its North American unit posted its best quarter in more than a decade on the strength of new models.

Revenue in North America, the company’s largest market, shot up by one-fifth during the quarter, and Ford added that its European restructuring was on track.

The second-largest US automaker reported a pre-tax profit of $2.1bn (£1.4bn), or 41 cents per share for the quarter, down from about $2.3bn a year earlier. But the results exceeded the analysts’ average estimate of 37 cents per share.

The strong performance in North America was the result of “recovering vehicle demand in the US, lower wage costs, and factories that are running close to capacity,” Edward Jones analyst Christian Mayes said.

Ford still expects to lose $2bn in Europe this year. Finance chief Bob Shanks told reporters that recent economic data in the region painted a cloudy picture of when Europe would eventually rebound.

He added that car manufacturers “seem to be running along the bottom now” in Europe. The industry may see some stabilisation toward year-end or early 2014, he added.

Net income was $1.6bn, or 40 cents per share, up from $1.4bn a year earlier. Revenue rose to $35.8bn from $32.4bn.

Ford’s pre-tax profit in North America hit its highest level since at least 2000, when it began reporting the region as a separate unit.

The company posted a $2.4bn profit there, with sales volume up 17 per cent.