Ford: We Just Had One of Our Best Years Ever

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Shares of Ford (NYSE:F) found buying support today, as the American automaker posted impressive financial results. In fact, Ford set annual pretax profit records around the globe.

On Tuesday, Ford reported that fourth-quarter income surged 90 percent to $3.04 billion (74 cents per share) compared to $1.6 billion (40 cents per share) a year earlier. Pretax operating profit declined $402 million to $1.28 billion (31 cents per share), but that was better than the 28 cents per share expected by analysts. Ford has now posted a pretax profit for 18 consecutive quarters.

Ford had one of its best years on record. Full-year 2013 pretax profit increased $603 million from last year to $8.6 billion ($1.62 per share). Conditions in Europe improved, while record profits were seen in North America and Asia Pacific and Africa. Furthermore, Ford had record market share in China, as wholesale volume in the world’s second largest economy was up 45 percent in the fourth quarter and about 50 percent for the full year.

“We had an outstanding year in 2013, demonstrating that our One Ford plan continues to drive solid results and profitable growth for all,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s CEO, in the earnings release. “We are well positioned for another solid year in 2014, as we continue our plan to serve customers in all markets around the world with a full family of vehicles — small, medium and large; cars, utilities and trucks — with the very best quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value.”

Ford generated positive Automotive operating-related cash flow of $500 million in the fourth quarter — the 15th consecutive quarter of positive performance — and record positive Automotive operating-related cash flow of $6.1 billion for the full year. Ford ended 2013 with Automotive gross cash of $24.8 billion, exceeding debt by $9.1 billion, and a strong liquidity position of $36.2 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion from a year earlier.

While there have been concerns about Ford’s short-term outlook due to upcoming models weighing on profit margins, the company entered 2014 on a strong note. In December, Ford had its best December for retail sales since 2005. Retail sales for the Ford brand jumped 14 percent in 2013, with cars up 12 percent, utilities up 13 percent, and trucks up 17 percent. Ford has been the best-selling brand for four consecutive years. The F-Series is now the best-selling truck for 37 years and best-selling vehicle for 32 years.

Shares of Ford closed the day at $15.62 on Tuesday.

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