Ford sees best profit in 13 years on green car sales

Ford F-150 trucks
Image caption Ford said the 2011 outlook was good despite higher commodity costs

Ford has unveiled its strongest first quarter profits for 13 years, helped by increasing demand for more fuel-efficient cars.

Profits rose to $2.55bn (£1.54bn; 1.75bn euros) in the first three months of 2011, compared with $2.09bn at the same period the year before.

"Our team delivered a great quarter, with solid growth in all regions," said Ford president Alan Mulally.

Ford said the 2011 outlook was good, despite higher commodity costs.

Revenue for the first quarter was $33.1bn, up from $28.1bn a year earlier, a much bigger jump than analysts had expected.

The firm said it had seen a strong performance in its home North American market, as well as "solid improvement" in Europe, where revenue had risen by $1bn to $8.7bn.

US sales had climbed 16%, while market share in the Asia Pacific and Africa regions had also increased, the carmaker said.

It added that it had made "significant progress" in strengthening its balance sheet by reducing debt levels.

Rising market share

Ford said it was confident sales would keep rising "despite uncertain economic conditions".

"We expect our annual volumes to continue to grow substantially," said Mr Mulally.

Ford also said that it had seen "minimal" impact on its business following last month's earthquake in Japan, which has affected many Japanese car manufacturers.

Some analysts said the carmaker could actually take business away from Japanese rivals.

"I think Ford and a lot of the other American automakers will take market share from the Japanese," said Channing Smith at Capital Advisors.

Ford has recovered strongly since it was forced to cut tens of thousands of jobs and close factories during the height of the global financial crisis.

Unlike its great Detroit rivals General Motors and Chrysler, it has done so without any direct government funding.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites