Ford Announces Unprecedented Move During Earnings

Ford (NYSE:F) reported quarterly profit on Friday that beat analysts estimates as strong results in North America helped offset weakness abroad and higher taxes. Excluding one-time items, the company reported a profit of 39 cents a share, compared to analyst expectations of 35 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
First-quarter net income was $1.40 billion, or 35 cents a share, down from $2.55 billion, or 61 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. About half of that drop was due to a higher tax rate after Ford made an accounting change late last year, it said. Excluding one-time items, profit was 39 cents a share.
Revenue fell from $33.1 billion in the year-ago period to $32.4 billion in the January-March quarter. Analysts had expected $31.27 billion.
Ford reported a pretax loss of $149 million in Europe, hurt there by dwindling demand due to recession-like conditions. Ford also reported a loss for its operations in Asia and Africa, and lower earnings in South America. However, North American pretax earnings were $2.1 billion, up $289 million from a year ago. As European markets remain weak and China growth slows, Ford said it will be relying heavily on North American sales this year.
Ford also announced plans today to offer lump-sum pension payments to about 90,000 U.S. salaried retirees and former employees, beginning in the third quarter. The voluntary program is aimed at lowering the company’s $74 billion global pension liability, which was underfunded by $15.4 billion at the end of last year. Ford said it’s the first such program offered by any U.S. company.