Ford Motor Co. reported a first quarter net loss of $2 billion as the automaker – like many others – grappled with the impact of global coronavirus pandemic, noting it had a negative impact of “at least” $2 billion during the period.
The company’s North American operations, save two plants making emergency medical devices and equipment, have been shut down since mid-March and after an initial plan to potentially restart its production facilities May 4, its now clear that won’t happen for several more weeks.
“Ford people are keeping each other safe, limiting the spread of the virus, safeguarding healthcare workers and first responders, and taking care of customers,” said CEO Jim Hackett. “The imagination, initiative and execution of our team is helping save lives today, and those qualities will allow Ford to emerge from this as a stronger company.”
Ford reported quarterly revenue of $34 billion while the $2 billion net loss equated to a loss of 50 cents per share. Adjusted EPS was negative 23 cents. The automaker reported an adjusted loss before interest and taxes of $632 million while first-quarter adjusted free cash flow was negative $2.2 billion.
The company recorded a volume-driven Automotive EBIT loss of $177 million, as $346 million in positive EBIT from North America was more than offset by Auto losses in other regions. The quarterly loss in Mobility was expected, as Ford continues to invest in growth from related services, as well as in autonomous vehicles and the underlying business model.
Since then, the company has taken other actions to help it weather the current storm. In addition to cutting salaries of its top executives, it’s also drawn down on two credit lines totaling about $15 billion, and recently issued $8 billion in new debt to bolster its cash reserves.
At the end of the first quarter, Ford and Ford Credit had $35.1 billion and $28.0 billion in liquidity, respectively. Ford Credit remains an important source of support for customers and dealers, with a strong, inherently liquid balance sheet. The financing unit is generating liquidity as its balance sheet size declines with lower consumer demand for vehicles. As of April 24, Ford had a cash balance of $35 billion.
“We’ve taken decisive actions to lower our costs and capital expenditures and been opportunistic in strengthening our balance sheet and optimizing our financial flexibility,” said Tim Stone, Ford’s CFO. “We believe the company’s cash is sufficient to take us through the end of the year, even with no additional vehicle wholesales or financing actions.”
In March, the company withdrew guidance for 2020 financial performance it had given in early
February. That outlook excluded possible implications of the coronavirus, which at the time had not yet reached pandemic stage.
According to Stone, today’s economic environment remains too ambiguous to provide full-year 2020 financial guidance. He said the company expects second-quarter adjusted EBIT to be a loss of more than $5 billion, as year-over-year industry volumes decline significantly in every region.
The company is trying to determine the best plan for restarting production in regions around the world. Ford China is back up and running. Newly appointed COO Jim Farley noted that it plans to learn from that restart when it comes to other areas. Right now, the automaker’s European operations are slated to begin cranking back up next week.
Farley kept his eyes on the prize, noting that once Ford is back a full operational strength, it will focus on a slew of new product introductions, none more high-profile than the automaker’s latest entry in the battery-electric vehicle market, the Mustang Mach-E. He noted that between now and 2023, the average age of Ford-branded vehicles will drop from about five years to just three years.