It’s been a challenging couple of months for the auto industry. There’s the near-record run-up in petroleum prices, and the Japanese parts shortage that has crippled makers around the world. Raw material costs have been soaring. And the economies of some key auto markets have been in the doldrums.
Yet, you might not even notice if you simply watch Ford Motor Co., industry and financial analysts suggest – forecasting that the maker will tomorrow report its strongest first quarter profit since 1998.
Earnings are forecast to reach as high as 50 cents a share, a nearly 10% rise from the 46 cents reported for the January – March quarter of 2010. Net income, according to a consensus of analysts, is expected to reach $2.1 billion, the largest figure for the quarter since Ford generated net income of $17.6 billion in 1998.
Such numbers could help quell concerns about the vitality of the auto industry at a time when investors have been pulling back, anticipating serious problems as fuel prices soar – especially for Detroit makers traditionally dependent upon low-mileage light trucks.