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Lewis Booth: From Bean-Counter to Car Czar?

Can former Ford exec help steer Europe’s troubled auto industry?

by on Jul.20, 2012

Former CFO Lewis Booth helped put together Ford's successful turnaround plan.

As one of the architects of Ford Motor Co.’s successful effort to survive the deep U.S. recession without a federal bailout, former Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth demonstrated his turnaround skills.  But can the now-retired Ford exec pull that magic off on a continental scale?

That’s something being proposed by the giant bank Credit Suisse, which suggests that bean-counter Booth would make an excellent European car czar, a role that would be modeled after the job that Steven Rattner held during the bail-outs of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009 and ’10.

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The European auto industry certainly could use the help.  Sales have plunged to levels last seen during the depths of the recession and few believe the market has yet bottomed out, what with countries like Spain, Greece and Ireland facing deep austerity programs as they struggle to fix their own financial problems.


Kuzak, Booth Stepping Down at Ford but Mulally Says “No Plans to Retire.”

Shake-up to have no impact on One Ford strategy.

by on Feb.09, 2012

Ford's Derrick Kuzak oversaw the unusual step of announcing a joint venture with Toyota -- whose Takeshi Uchiyamada is shown here.

Two of the most senior and respected members of the Ford Motor Co. management team will retire, the maker announced this morning, but CEO Alan Mulally stressed that he himself has “no plans to retire,” and insisted the executive shake-up will have no measurable impact on the way the Detroit maker operates.

Nonetheless, the 65-year-old Mulally made it clear that he is quietly grooming the next generation of Ford managers, including the executive who will eventually succeed him.

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This morning’s announcements involve a number of senior members of Ford’s management – but also sees a new name join the group, the company’s Board of Directors electing former Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman to their ranks.


Ford Posts $6.6 bil Profit for 2010

Workers to share in upturn with $5,00 profit-sharing checks.

by on Jan.28, 2011

Big profits still fall short of analyst expectations.

Ford Motor Co. has posted its biggest profit since 1999 – although the numbers fell more than a billion dollars short of what many had anticipated the automaker would announce.

Ford officials said they earned $6.6 billion in 2010, which will trigger profit-sharing checks for 40,600 U.S. hourly workers of $5,000, more than union members have taken home since 2001, when profit sharing generated payments of $6,700.

“We’ve always said that all our stakeholders will benefit from the growth of the company and improving profitability, and I think this is a specific reflection of that,” said Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth. “It’s a delight to be paying profit sharing.”

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One reason the maker fell short of analyst expectations was the one-time, $960 million charge it took to cover the cost of paying down debt.  The maker took the prescient step of lining up extensive financing sources as the nation fell into recession.  But it is now racing to pay down those loans and trim its operating costs.  CEO Alan Mulally, in November, authorized paying down another $1.9 billion in outstanding debt.


CEO Mulally Credits New Products, Leaner Structure For $2.6B Second Quarter Ford Profit

Drawing down debt now a critical goal for Ford Motor Company.

by on Jul.23, 2010

Ford's latest earnings are, allegedly, taking Wall Street by surprise.

Ford Motor Co continued to roll forward during the second quarter of 2010, reporting a profit of $2.6 billion, or 61 cents per share, as each of its major business operations around the world posted  larger  profits.

The second quarter financial report reflected the best results by Ford since the first quarter of 2004, Ford chief executive officer Alan Mulally said, adding the company should be able to go from a net debt to a net cash position by year-end.

“We delivered a very strong second quarter and first half of 2010 and are ahead of where we thought we would be despite the still-challenging business conditions,” Mulally said, adding Ford expects to continue to post strong results through the balance of the year and through 2011.

“We remain on track to deliver solid profits and positive automotive operating-related cash flow for 2010, and we expect even better financial results in 2011,” Mulally said.

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It is hard to argue that Ford is on a roll, according to industry analysts.  The maker has landed at or near the top in a variety of new consumer studies, including the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, which in June showed Ford to be the top-ranked mainstream brand for out-of-the-factory quality.  The maker also dominated the recent Ideal Vehicle Awards, from AutoPacific, Inc., a measure of which products motorists are most passionate about.


Ford Delivers Strong $2.1 Bil Q1 Profit

Maker planning boost to production.

by on Apr.27, 2010

Ford CEO Alan Mulally's One Ford strategy is yielding results - but he and Ford's products will be tested in the months to come.

Intent on showing last year’s positive numbers weren’t a fluke, Ford Motor Co. weighed in with another solid earnings report, this time going $2.08 billion into the black for the first quarter of 2010.

The profit, which amounted to 50 cents a share, comes as a striking turnaround from the same period in 2009, when Ford reported a $1.43 billion loss, equal to a deficit of 60 cents a share.  More significantly, the 2010 figures come in at more than double the $1 billion – or 31 cents a share – the consensus of industry analysts surveyed by Thomson One Analytics had predicted.

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The latest numbers give hope to observers who are waiting to see if Ford can weigh in with another full-year profit.  Net income for 2009 came to $2.7 billion – the first time the maker had been in the black for a full year since 2005.


Ford Posts $1.4 Billion Loss in Quarter One

Cash outflow slows enough to get the company through 2009.

by on Apr.24, 2009


"We're comfortable we'll get through this year," said Lewis Booth, Ford's Chief Financial Officer.

Ford Motor Company is showing signs of staging a turnaround even as its key competitors General Motors Corporation and Chrysler LLC face bankruptcy.

Ford reported it finished the first quarter of 2009 with a large loss $1.4 billion. The loss, however, was significantly smaller than some analysts expected. In addition, Ford claimed it used less cash in the first quarter, slowing its cash burn that had some observers suggesting that like GM and Chrysler, Ford would eventually need help from the U.S. Treasury.

Ford finished the first quarter with $21.3 billion in automotive gross cash and reiterated that, based on current planning assumptions of 10.5-12 million unit sales a year in the U.S., it does not expect to seek a bridge loan from the U.S. government. U.S. sales through April are running under 10 million units at an annual rate.

Cash outflow, which totaled about -$3.7 billion in the first quarter, will decline through the balance of the year, said Lewis Booth, Ford’s chief financial officer. “We’re comfortable we’ll get through this year,” he said.

In the first quarter, Ford took a number of actions to strengthen its overall weak business, and also started discussions with interested parties regarding the sale of loss-making Volvo,  Q1 -$255 million, where it took a $700 million charge based on the difference between book value and the expected ultimate sale price. More write downs are possible. Every Ford Automotive region, except South America, +$63 million compared with a profit of $257 million a year ago, lost money during the quarter, as did its finance subsidiary, Ford Motor Credit. First quarter revenue was $10.2 billion in North America, down from $17.1 billion a year ago. Ford Europe reported a pre-tax loss of $550 million, compared with a profit of $739 million a year ago.

In one of Ford’s ongoing weaknesses that has negative long-term implications, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa’s pre-tax loss was $96 million, compared with a profit of $1 million a year ago. Asia is projected to be the only growth market in the world going forward,  and Ford is simply not a player in Asia. (more…)