Ford Motor Co.’s profits cratered during the fourth quarter as moved through the changeover of the company’s popular full-size pickup truck, dropping from 75 cents per share in the same period in 2013 to a single penny per share in the final three months of 2014.
The company’s fourth quarter pre-tax profit was $1.1 billion, excluding special items. That is $197 million lower than a year ago with after-tax earnings per share at 26 cents, 6 cents lower than a year ago.
The net income for the quarter was $52 million: a decline of $3 billion from last year. Despite the decline, the fourth quarter of 2014 was the company’s 22nd consecutive quarter of profitability, Ford executives noted.
“2014 was a solid yet challenging year for Ford — with our investments and a record number of new products launched around the world positioning us for strong growth this year and beyond,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO.
“The entire Ford team remains focused on our three priorities of accelerating our One Ford plan, delivering product excellence and driving innovation in every part of the business.”
Fields added that Ford’s results, which were consistent with September guidance, were driven by profitability in North America, record results in Asia Pacific, and the highest Ford Credit profit since 2011. The guidance provided by Ford for the fourth quarter had sent Ford shares into a tailspin.
Full year after-tax earnings, excluding special items, were $1.16 per share or $6.3 billion, which was down 47 cents per share. The company reported net income of $3.2 billion, or 80 cents per share, which is $4 billion lower than a year ago, including the non-repeat of a favorable fourth quarter $2.1 billion tax special item from a year ago.
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Wholesale volume was about equal with 2013, while company revenue declined 2%. Ford achieved record marketshare in Asia Pacific, driven by it’s highest ever share in China.
Ford’s full-year pre-tax profit of $6.3 billion was the company’s fifth consecutive year of both profitability and positive Automotive operating-related cash flow.
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Pre-tax special item charges of $1.2 billion primarily reflects a one-time accounting change for Ford’s Venezuela operations, as well as, separation-related actions in Europe and Asia Pacific to support the company’s transformation plans, and charges associated with the settlement of the 2016
Automotive gross cash was $21.7 billion, which exceeded debt by $7.9 billion, and liquidity remained strong, but was significantly less than the $9 billion on hand at the end of the fourth quarter in 2013.
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Despite the drop last year, Ford officials remained optimistic about 2015. The outlook for company pre-tax profit is unchanged and expected to range from $8.5 billion to $9.5 billion; higher automotive revenue and operating margins compared with 2014; improved outlook for automotive operating-related cash flow from positive to higher than 2014.