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Ford Q4 Pre-Tax Profit Best in Over a Decade

But Europe's woes drag down Ford's full-year earnings.

by on Jan.29, 2013

Demand for Ford's newest models buoyed North American earnings - but quality issues with models like Escape could also pose a drag.

Ford Motor says it made the highest fourth-quarter pre-tax profit in more than a decade. It earned $1.7 billion last quarter, due largely to increases sales of trucks and SUVs and higher prices for all models.

That was 31 cents a share, beating Wall Street forecasts which had ranged from 25 to 28 cents.

For all of 2012, the automaker’s net income was $5.7 billion, down $307 million than a year ago. It excludes some special charges.

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“The Ford team delivered strong results once again, underscoring that our One Ford plan is working,” proclaimed Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “We are well positioned for another strong year in 2013, as we continue our plan to serve customers in all markets around the world with a full family of vehicles — small, medium and large; cars, utilities and trucks — with the very best quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value.”

Revenue last quarter was $36.5 billion, up $1.9 billion from the same period a year ago. For 2012, revenue was $134.3 billion, down $2 billion from a year ago.

Trucks, mainly sold in North America, drove profits hard enough to overcome European losses — which were substantial, and more than the maker had forecast just a few months ago.

In the quarter, Ford reported European losses of 732 Million, against a loss of $190 million the previous year. For all of 2012 Ford’s European loss climbed to $1.73 billion. The automaker had forecast about $1.5 billion when it discussed third-quarter earnings three months ago.

In North America, Ford said it made $1.87 billion in the quarter — twice as much as the $889 million on it posted a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter was $22.1 billion, up $2.5 billion.

For the year, North American profit was $8.34 billion, before taxes..

Ford (F) showed a preview of the 2015 F-150 at the Detroit auto show earlier this month, hoping to tempt prospective buyers into waiting instead of buying General Motors new Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra, on sale first half this year.

Ford also wanted to raise doubts in shoppers’ minds about spending now for Chrysler Group’s Ram pickup, revised for 2013 and winner of the North American Truck of the Year earlier this month, an award bestowed by 49 U.S. and Canadian auto journalists.

Ford had reported a loss of $468 million in Europe last quarter and warned that losses were mounting. The automaker has announced plans to close three European plants by 2014, but said last quarter that it would lose $1.5 billion in 2012 and again this year, and doesn’t expect black ink from European operations until about 2015.

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