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Ford Earnings Surge 64%

Ford Motor Co.’s profits soared 64 percent in the third quarter thanks to aggressive cost cutting and better results from overseas operations.

The No. 2 automaker said Wednesday it cut $500 million in costs during the July-September period and $2.3 billion through the first nine months of 1997. Ford began the year with a goal to cut $1 billion.

“They’re so far ahead of schedule,” said Wes Brown, an analyst with Nextrend. “They are just doing an unbelievable job of cutting costs.”

The automaker already is setting costreduction goals for next year, said John M. Devine, Ford’s chief financial officer. “Our intent is to keep the focus on lowering costs going forward,” Devine said.

Ford earned a record $1.12 billion, or 93 cents a share, up from $686 million, or 57 cents a share, in the third quarter last year.

The earnings were a record for the quarter and were above analysts’ expectations. The average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by First Call was 83 cents a share.

Nine-month earnings also were a company record. Ford earned $5.1 billion, or $4.26 a share, for the first nine months of 1997, compared with $3.2 billion, or $2.71 a share, a year ago.

In other earnings reports Wednesday:

Apple Computer Inc. reported it lost a worse-than-expected $161 million on a 7 percent drop in computer sales last quarter. It also disclosed a fresh round of cost cuts to try to revive its dim fortunes.

Apple said the loss in its fourth fiscal quarter came to $1.26 per share, compared with profits of $25 million, or 20 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenues fell to $1.61 billion from $2.32 billion.

Not counting restructuring and other charges, Apple would have lost 19 cents per share, which was slightly worse than the 14 cents per share forecast by analysts surveyed by First Call.

Fred Anderson, Apple’s chief financial officer, said in a telephone interview that Apple was slowly stabilizing its revenue declines and cut operating expenses to $353 million in the fourth quarter.

BankAmerica said net income for the quarter ending Sept. 30 rose 20 percent to $819 million, or $1.11 a share, from $683 million, or 87 cents a share, a year ago.

The San Francisco-based banking giant’s results came in slightly above the First Call Inc. consensus estimate of $1.09 a share.

For the first nine months of the year, the nation’s No. 3 banking corporation earned $2.4 billion, or $3.48 per share, up 19 percent from $2.13 billion, or $2.69 per share, for the first nine months of 1996.

General Dynamic’s third-quarter earnings rose 20 percent on the strength of growth in the company’s armored vehicles and attack ship divisions.

The company said Wednesday that net income in the third quarter was $82 million, or $1.30 per share, compared with $68 million, or $1.08 per share, a year earlier.

Sales were $988 million, compared with $862 million a year ago.

For the first nine months of the year, net earnings were $233 million, or $3.71 per share, up from $200 million, or $3.16 per share, a year ago. Sales were $3 billion, compared with $2.7 billion.

American Airlines reported on Wednesday third-quarter earnings rose 14.5 percent, boosted by higher prices and a strong economy.

AMR Corp., parent company of American Airlines, said earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30 amounted to $323 million, or $3.55 per share, compared with $282 million, or $3.06 per share, a year earlier.

Revenues were $4.8 billion, up from $4.6 billion a year earlier.

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