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Streamlined Ford grinds out $1 billion third-quarter profit

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. has come a long way from the nearly $30 billion in losses it racked up between 2006 and 2008.

After closing more than 10 plants and slashing 45 percent of its work force since 2006 in its long-ailing North American division, the Dearborn-based automaker Monday reported third-quarter net income of $997 million, or 29 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $161 million, or 7 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts, on average, were expecting Ford to report a loss of 12 cents per share, before onetime charges, for the July-September period, according to estimates from Thomson One Analytics.

For the first nine months of the year, Ford has posted a $1.8 billion profit. That's a $10.6 billion improvement from the same period a year ago.

Even the company's long-struggling North American division reported a pretax operating profit of $357 million — its first profitable quarter since the first quarter of 2005. The company improved its cash position by $2.8 billion, ending the quarter with $23.8 billion in cash.

What's more, Ford said it "expects to be solidly profitable in 2011," excluding special one-time charges, "with positive operating-related cash flow."

Ford said a strong customer response to its new cars and trucks, cost reductions and improved results at its financing arm, Ford Motor Credit Co., contributed to the result.

The result was especially impressive because Ford's third-quarter revenue was $30.9 billion, down just $800 million from the same period a year ago.

"While we still face a challenging road ahead, our transformation is working, and our underlying business continues to grow stronger," chief executive Alan Mulally said Monday during a conference call with analysts and journalists. "We remain on track to achieve or exceed all of our 2009 financial targets."

While the federal government's Cash for Clunkers program boosted Ford's sales in the United States in July and August and similar programs in Europe also benefited Ford, Mulally said Ford would have earned a profit anyway.

$357M

Pretax profit posted by Ford's key North American car and truck division, its first quarter in the black since early 2005

$1.8B

Profit that Ford has posted for the first nine months of the year, a $10.6 billion gain from the like period a year ago

14.6%

Ford's market share of U.S. car and trucks sales, a gain of 2.2 percentage points

Streamlined Ford grinds out $1 billion third-quarter profit 11/02/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 11:56am]
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