Ford Delivers on Earnings, But Many Concerns Remain for Rest of 2020

Even before the recession there had been ongoing woes tied to “peak auto” trends. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and people stopped buying big ticket items like cars. Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) was not immune from the carnage at all. The American automaker’s shares were down over 26% year-to-date coming into earnings on Thursday.

Ford’s stock rose on word that its net income was $1.1 billion in the second quarter. The company’s detailed release showed that this positive net income did include a $3.5 billion gain on its investment in Argo AI. Ford’s EBIT basis was -$1.9 billion, but Ford noted that this was more than $3 billion better than expected and that it excluded the Argo AI gain. Its adjusted pre-tax loss for the quarter came to $1.9 billion, for a per share level of -$0.35 adjusted.

Revenue came in at $19.4 billion during the second quarter, with $10.4 billion coming from North America. That gross revenue figure is down 50% from the $38.9 billion in the same period in 2019. Ford also showed that its gross market share fell to 5.9% from 6.2% a year earlier, and wholesale units fell to 645,000 from 1.36 million.

One issue which Ford touted in the earnings was that it is looking forward to new product launches and that the company is finalizing its strategic alliance with Volkswagen for commercial vehicles, electric vehicles and pickups. The company ended its second quarter with over $39 billion in cash and that the company has since repaid $7.7 billion of an outstanding $15.4 billion against its revolving credit lines.

As for guidance, Ford is seeing its strongest 2020 adjusted EBIT coming in the current third-quarter period. The launch plans for its new F-150 trucks, the Mustang Mach-E BEV, and the return of its Bronco are all said to be on track.

Ford’s top message about liquidity is that the company now has sufficient capital to maintain or exceed its $20 billion target cash balance through the second-half of this year. That figure is also said to be the case even if global demand declines or if there is another major wave of pandemic-related plant closures.

The company touted a gain in share for its retail truck sales of F-150, which Ford also touted as America’s top-selling truck for 38 straight years. That gain was up 2.5 percentage points to more than 33%.

After a first view into a slightly improving July, Ford is looking at the second half of 2020 and assuming no meaningful change in the current economic conditions. While it sees and continued steady improvement in the stability of the global automotive supply base, and is not expecting additional significant coronavirus-related disruptions, the guidance is for third-quarter adjusted EBIT of $500 million to $1.5 billion with year-over-year weaker global demand and a lower profit contribution from Ford Credit. And for the full year, Ford expects to report an adjusted EBIT loss.

One area which remains elusive is guidance on when Ford might return to paying a dividend. That said, investors should be looking for a consistent return to some normalcy before they expect any serious dividends coming from the auto sector. Ford is among the most actively traded stocks in America.

Shares of Ford initially traded up on the headlines. After closing down 2.6% at $6.74, Ford was up about 3% at $6.97 in the after-hours reaction on Thursday.. Refinitiv had a $6.67 consensus analyst target price and its 52-week trading range is $3.96 to $9.65.