Ford Motor (F) reported a 90% improvement in its fourth-quarter earnings, beating Wall Street’s view to close out one of the automaker’s best years ever.
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The company said Tuesday its profit raced to $3.04 billion, or 74 cents a share, from $1.6 billion, or 40 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Pretax operating earnings slipped $402 million to $1.28 billion, or 31 cents a share.
The latest quarter included a $2.1 billion gain from the addition of deferred tax assets, plus charges of $311 million for pension buyouts and layoffs in Europe.
Quarterly revenue climbed 4% to $37.6 billion, handily beating Wall Street’s view of $35.17 billion. Ford also topped estimates for a per-share operating profit of 28 cents.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based car manufacturer also backed its prior guidance for 2014. Citing higher costs related to an aggressive launch schedule, Ford is calling for operating earnings of $7 billion to $8 billion, down from a final tally of $8.6 billion in 2013.
Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer, said full-year results were driven by record profits in North America and Asia Pacific Africa, as well as improvements in Europe.
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In the latest period, Ford’s North American unit posted an operating profit of $1.7 billion, down 9% amid higher warranty costs stemming from a Ford Escape recall. Ford said the region produced its best annual profit since 2000 thanks to growth in U.S. market share and a “robust” market for full-size pickup trucks.
On a conference call with analysts, Ford said it scheduled 11 weeks of plant downtime tied to the launch of a new 2015 F-150. The downtime will impact North America operating results for fiscal 2014.
Europe, a region that pressured on automakers throughout 2013, narrowed its loss to $571 million from $732 million. South America swung to a loss of $126 million versus a year-ago pretax profit of $145 million. The segment including Asia Pacific and Africa saw more than doubled its pretax results to $106 million.
Ford said it will make record profit-sharing payments of roughly $8,800 to 47,000 eligible U.S. hourly employees. The company also disclosed that it halved its underfunded pension status to $9 billion by the end of 2013.
Shares were trading nine cents higher at $15.80 early Tuesday morning.