Ford's 2016 Outlook Still Soft After Q3 Profits Tumbled

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) reported third-quarter 2016 results before markets opened Thursday. The automaker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.26 on revenues of $35.94 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.52 on revenues of $38.14 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.20 and $33.15 billion in revenues.

Automotive revenues totaled $33.33 billion in the quarter, down from $35.82 billion in the third quarter of 2015. Financial services revenues totaled $2.61 billion, up from $2.33 billion a year ago.

North American sales totaled $21.8 billion, down $1.9 billion year over year, and pretax profit came to $1.3 billion, down $1.6 billion. Operating margin was 6.5 points lower than in the third quarter of 2015 at 5.8%. Wholesale volume fell by 84,000 units to 687,000.

The company’s guidance for fiscal year 2016 included adjusted EPS “lower” than the 2015 total of $1.93 and adjusted pretax profits of around $10.2 billion, down from $10.8 billion last year. The automotive segment’s revenues are still expected to be greater than or equal to 2015’s total of $140.6 billion. Automotive operating margin is now forecast to be lower than the 6.8% margin posted in 2015. Cash flow from the automotive segment is on track to meet the company’s plan to come in below the $7.3 billion total of 2015.

The consensus analysts’ estimate for fourth-quarter EPS is $0.40 on revenues of $35.59 billion. For the full year, the consensus estimates call for $1.80 in EPS and revenues of $140.99 billion.

North American results have been hammered by lagging sales of the F-Series pickups. While still the best-selling vehicle in the United States, the F-150 and the F-Series have a few issues:

Lower pre-tax profit driven by the launch impact of all-new Super Duty, the dealer stock reduction for F-150 versus the increase from a year ago, normalization of series mix on F-150 and the previously announced door latch recall.

Ford suspended production at its F-150 assembly plant in Kansas city for a week and projects U.S. production volumes for all its vehicles to reach 700,000 in the fourth quarter, essentially flat with the third quarter, but down by 100,000 units year over year. Globally, production is forecast at 1.63 million units, down 75,000 compared with 2015.

Ford’s shares traded down about 1.5% in premarket trading at $11.73, after closing at $11.88 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $11.02 to $14.96. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock was $12.49 before the report.