Ford profit disappoints as sales slide

Ford F-150 Raptor Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Raptor is one of the new range of F-150 pickup trucks

Ford has reported lower-than-expected profits for the first three months of 2015 after it sold fewer vehicles in North America and continued to lose money in Europe and South America.

Pre-tax profit for the quarter rose $24m to $1.4bn (£915m), but revenue slipped $2bn to $33.9bn.

The second-largest US carmaker sold 1.57 million vehicles, down 21,000 compared with a year earlier.

There were 678,000 sales in North America - a fall of 39,000.

The introduction of a new F-150 pickup affected sales in North America as vehicles are still being sent to dealers, while customers waited for a new model of the Ford Edge SUV. The two models are among the company's most profitable.

However, Ford said it expected a "very strong year" in North America, despite a slight fall in revenue to $20bn and an 11% slide in pre-tax profit to $1.34bn.

'Breakthrough year'

Ford - which employs about 194,000 people globally at 66 plants - maintained its full-year forecast for pre-tax profits of between $8.5bn and $9.5bn.

Bob Shanks, chief financial officer, said the carmaker was on track for a "breakthrough year".

Mark Fields, chief executive, said Ford would "grow progressively stronger" as recent launches "start to pay off".

The results were lower than analysts had expected, Ford said, because they had forecast a tax rate of 29% for the quarter, while Ford paid 34%.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The new Ford GT sports car is expected to go on sale in 2017.

Europe remained a weak spot even though sales rose 2% to 376,000 vehicles in the quarter, with revenue down $900m to $6.9bn and pre-tax losses totalling $185m.

There was robust demand for commercial vehicles such as the Transit van.

Revenue in South America fell 20% and the company remained in the red for the region with a $189m loss as it replaced legacy products with those from its "One Ford" range.

That was better than the $510m loss for the period in 2014, which included a $310m charge to offset currency devaluation in Venezuela.

Prospects in Asia were brighter, as sales rose 16,000 to 366,000 vehicles and a $103m profits.

The financing operation, Ford Credit, returned a profit of $483m on the back of higher lending.

The first quarter dividend was raised by 20% to 15 cents a share.


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