The Wall Street Journal

Ford Swings To 1st Full-Year Profit Since 2005
The Wall Street Journal

Ford Motor Co. (F), the only U.S. auto maker to avoid bankruptcy protection, on Thursday reported its second profitable quarter in a row and posted its first annual net profit in four years, helped by rising sales, firmer pricing and lower costs in its home market in the U.S.

Ford did not take a federal bailout and carries a lot of debt. Still, the auto maker surprised investors with a profitable performance.

Net income for the fourth quarter was $868 million, or 25 cents a share, compared with a loss of $5.98 billion, or $2.51 a share, during the year-earlier period. Excluding special items, the company reported earnings per share of 43 cents, exceeding the Thomson-Reuters analyst estimate of 26 cents a share.

Ford’s fourth-quarter profit was driven by a 26% rise in vehicle sales, to 1.4 million cars and light trucks worldwide. The company gained market share in the U.S., benefiting as its two rivals, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC struggled to regain their footing after undergoing federally financed bankruptcy reorganizations.

At the same time, work-force reductions and other cost-cutting measures taken last year resulted in Ford having fixed costs in the fourth quarter that were $500 million below the same quarter in 2008.