Ford’s Q3 pretax operating profit tumbles 54%

Ford's Q3 pretax operating profit tumbles 54%

BY Bradford Wernle

Ford CEO Mark Fields (photo above) today delivered the first report card on his performance since taking over for Alan Mulally on July 1. He gave every sign that he’ll have more to show off next year.

Ford’s pretax operating profit in the third quarter tumbled 54 percent from a year earlier to $1.18 billion. Lower sales volume and higher warranty costs took much of the blame.

Net income fell 34 percent to $835 million, with comparisons skewed by one-time charges this year and last. Revenues fell 3 percent to $34.9 billion.

Ford was profitable in its North America and Asia Pacific regions. But it lost money in South America and the Middle East & Africa. Europe fell back into the red after being profitable, briefly, from April through June.

“During the third quarter, we continued to introduce an unprecedented number of new vehicles and invest heavily in the new products and technologies,” Fields explained in a statement.

Those products, he said, “will deliver strong profitable growth beginning next year.”

The company is working its way through its busiest product launch schedule ever, with 23 new or refreshed models introduced globally this year.

“Twelve of 23 product launches are now complete, and we’re continuing to progress,” Fields said later during a conference call.

The most significant of those launches: a redesigned Ford F-series pickup, one of the automaker’s most profitable models. The shutdown of one plant that builds the F-series for all of September to prepare for the redesigned truck severely cut into sales and profits.