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Ford loss not as big as feared

Stock surges on quarterly report

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. on Friday reported a smaller-than-expected loss, said it was on track to at least break even by 2011 and reiterated that it does not expect to seek federal funding.

Ford’s results caused the company’s stock to surge past $5 a share for the first time since Sept. 30. Shares settled at an even $5, up 51 cents – more than 11 percent.

For the first three months of the year Ford lost $1.4 billion, or 60 cents a share, compared with earnings of $70 million, or 3 cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts had expected Ford to report a loss of $2.8 billion, or $1.24 a share, according to the consensus estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Thomson One Analytics.

Last year, when Ford was widely expected to report a first-quarter loss, it surprised Wall Street with a profitable quarter. Then gas prices spiked, the country slipped into a recession and Ford finished the year with a $14.6 billion loss – the worst in its history.

For the first quarter of this year, Ford said its total revenue for the first quarter was $24.8 billion, down 37 percent from $39.2 billion for the same period last year.

Most of that revenue decline is due to a global recession that has caused the industry’s sales of cars and trucks to decline 38.4 percent so far this year in the United States.

Despite those industry conditions, Ford still managed to cut its rate of cash consumption, a major concern among analysts, during the first quarter.

During the first quarter, Ford said it burned through $3.2 billion in cash for its automotive operations, down from $6.6 billion during the fourth quarter of last year and said that as of March 31, it had $21.3 billion in automotive cash.