Ford first-quarter earnings fall 41 percent, but beat expectations

Thursday, April 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) _ Ford Motor Co.'s first-quarter profits fell 41 percent because of weaker U.S. sales, but the results beat Wall Street's expectations.

The world's second-largest automaker said Thursday that it earned $1.13 billion, or 60 cents a share in the first three months of the year, compared with $1.93 billion, or 90 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected 54 cents a share from Ford.

The latest results exclude an accounting change. Including that change, Ford's first-quarter earnings would be $1.06 billion.

The results also exclude earnings from Visteon Corp., the parts arm that Ford spun off last year. Visteon reports its first-quarter earnings Friday.

Ford revenues for the quarter were $42.4 billion, down from $42.9 billion last year. Revenue from global automotive operations was $34.65 billion, down from $36.2 billion a year ago.

Ford's North American automotive earnings were $754 million, compared with $1.7 billion earned in the first quarter of 2000. Over the first three months of this year, Ford's U.S. sales are down 12 percent from a year ago.

Ford said its North American performance was hurt by delayed launches of the high-profit, new Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport utility vehicles, among other things.

U.S. sales by major domestic automakers have slid for six consecutive months, prompting them to slow production to trim bloated inventories. Ford cut first-quarter North American production about 15 percent from the same period last year, with plans to pare output by 7 percent from this month through June.

On Wednesday, General Motors Corp., the world's biggest automaker, reported its profits plunged 87 percent in the first quarter amid a slowdown in U.S. auto sales, though its results also were higher than Wall Street's expectations.

GM reported earning $237 million, or 53 cents a share, in the January-March period, down from $1.78 billion, or $2.80 a share, a year ago. Analysts had expected 26 cents per share in the first quarter.