North American Sales Hike Ford Revenues, Profits (F, GM, TM, HMC)

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Higher revenues and profits in its North American region boosted first-quarter results at Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). The company posted EPS of $0.18, well above the consensus estimate of $0.08, on revenues of $32.4 billion, also above the consensus estimate of $31.3 billion. Revenue in North America rose 39% year-over-year to $18.6 billion, and North American pre-tax operating profit totaled $2.1 billion, the highest since Ford began reporting the unit separately.

Carmakers General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) will report first quarter earnings later. GM is expected to post EPS of $0.85 on revenue of $37.5 billion. The consensus estimates for Toyota are EPS of $1.25 on revenue of $73.1 billion. Honda is expected to report EPS of $0.65 on revenue of $29.9 billion.

Ford’s sales in Europe fell by -$1.5 billion to $7.2 billion compared with the first quarter of 2011, and the region posted a pre-tax loss of -$149 million. The drop was the result of “lower industry volumes, lower demand for parts and accessories, and actions to reduce dealer stocks consistent with industry levels.” In other words, nobody in Europe wanted to buy anything we had for sale. European sales were at their lowest levels since 1995.

The company’s Asia Pacific Africa region didn’t do much better, although revenue was up about 8.7% to $2.3 billion. Pre-tax profit fell in Asia Pacific Africa fell to a loss of -$95 million. Ford attributed loss to “continued investment for future growth that precede the benefit of new products across the region.” In other words, more advertising and marketing expenses.

Ford also said that it would offer some 90,000 salaried retirees who are vested in the company’s US pension plan the option to receive a lump-sum payment. If the retiree takes the deal, “the company’s pension obligation to the individual will be settled.” Ford said that this is part of “the company’s long-term strategy to de-risk its global funded pension plans.”

Ford shares are up about 0.7% in pre-market trading this morning, at $11.95 in a 52-week range of $9.05-$15.69.

Paul Ausick

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