Why Ford Earnings Tumbled 35%

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Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) reported first-quarter 2017 results before markets opened Thursday. The automaker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.39 on revenues of $39.1 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.68 on revenues of $37.7 billion. Analysts were looking for EPS of $0.36 and revenues of $34.7 billion.

Net income fell 35%, from $2.46 billion in the first quarter of 2016 to $1.59 billion. The company blamed higher costs, lower volume, and unfavorable currency exchange effects. Higher costs were attributed to warranty (recalls), investments in new products and emerging opportunities for future growth, and rising commodity costs.

Average transaction prices rose by $1,971 year over year, driven by the best-selling F-150, the Super Duty pickups and the Lincoln brand.

CEO Mark Fields said:

This quarter was an investment in Ford’s future. From announcing exciting vehicles like the all-new Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, to initiatives such as our investment in Argo AI, we are fortifying our core business, while also investing in emerging opportunities that will deliver profitable growth.

Automotive revenues totaled $36.5 billion for the quarter, up by $1.3 billion year over year, but operating margin fell by 4.4 percentage points to 5.4% and pretax profit dipped by $1.5 billion to $2.0 billion.

North American sales totaled 771,000 units and revenues of $24 billion. Ford said it had 14.1% of the North American market, down 0.5 points from last year. Operating margin fell by 4.6 points to 8.3%.

Ford continues to expect adjusted pretax profit of around $9 billion for the full year but had no more to say about guidance in its press release. The company does expect to cut $3 billion in costs over the course of the year.

The consensus analysts’ estimate for second-quarter 2017 EPS is $0.46 on revenues of $36.5 billion. For the full year, the consensus estimates call for $1.59 in EPS and revenues of $141.56 billion.

Ford’s shares traded up about 2.3% in Thursday’s premarket to $11.85, after closing at $11.60 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $11.07 to $14.22. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock was $13.18 before this morning’s report.