Ford rebounds with ’09 profit of $2.7 billion
LOS ANGELES – Ford Motor Co. posted a profit of $2.7 billion for the year, a dramatic turnaround for the company, which weathered one of the worst years in the history of the automotive industry in comparatively good health.
Separately, Ford confirmed it has stopped making a limited-production commercial van in China because the vehicle contained gas pedals that were similar in design to the component involved in Toyota Motor Corp.’s recall.
But in a conference call Thursday, Ford executives were upbeat about the automaker’s future, saying that it should be profitable this year, despite ongoing economic turmoil.
“While we still face significant business environment challenges ahead, 2009 was a pivotal year for Ford and the strongest proof yet” of the success of the company’s effort to forge “a path toward profitable growth by working together as one team, leveraging our global scale,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s chief executive.
“Global economic conditions are reviving but remain fragile,” he said.
In the U.S., sales of Ford brands in the fourth quarter rose 13 percent from the same period a year earlier. The company grabbed 15.3 percent of the U.S. auto market, its first full-year gain since 1995.
Ford’s profit, announced prior to the opening of the stock market, amounted to 86 cents a share and compared with a loss of $14.8 billion, or $6.50 a share, in 2008.
The automaker’s results represented a “modest beat” over Wall Street expectations, said Itay Michaeli, an industry analyst with Citigroup Global Markets in New York.
“The key story going forward is whether Ford can sustain pricing momentum and cost control during an upturn,” Michaeli said.
Other analysts believe that is the case.
“If they can make $2.7 billion in one of the worst auto years in history, once sales really start to pick up, Ford should be a good-looking company,” said John Wolkonowicz, an analyst at IHS Global Insight.