Ford Speeds Ahead With Vehicle Success

This year has started off hot for Detroit automakers who enjoyed a stellar first quarter in the U.S. – especially Ford (NYSE: F  ) . Some wondered if the U.S. vehicle sales would start to cool off heading into the summer. If April sales are any indication, the hot sales are here to stay – much to investors' delight. Here's a quick look at what Ford reported today.

Quick hits

  • Ford as a company saw its April sales rise 18% versus last year – its best since 2007.
  • Car sales are up 21%. Utilities are up 16%. Trucks are up 16%.
  • America's best-selling truck, the F-Series, saw a 24% sales increase.
  • Fusion and Escape both established April sales records with increases of 24% and 52%, respectively.
  • Lincoln finally delivered some MKZ sales – with its best month ever, up 21%.

Escape and F-Series
If investors want to follow only one vehicle to better understand the health of Ford, it would be the F-Series. It hauls in fat margins and high transaction prices and is estimated to derive more than half of Ford's profits. Ford considers any month that sales over 50,000 F-Series a good one – this month qualifies at 59,030.

What's more, is that Ford's plants are running near capacity allowing each truck to roll off more profitable than the last. As good as these results are, we can expect more in the future. April represents the 21st straight month with a sales increase for the F-Series and is up 19% year to date versus 2012. The age of full-size trucks on the market is 13 years, and people are continuing to cash in and replace outdated models. This has been especially true with the housing market showing signs of life – helping boost truck sales.

The Escape shrugged off recalls that came soon after its redesign and has put the utilities segment on its back with impressive sales figures. April was its best month since its launch 13 years ago and rang in with a 52% increase versus last year. That's been a common theme for Escape this year with year-to-date sales up 30.7% versus last year. In the first four months this year it nearly reached 100,000 vehicles sold, and if this pace continues it could top 300,000 for 2013. That would make it only the second Ford vehicle to do so in the U.S. since the recession – the only other being the F-Series.

"We are working harder than ever to keep pace with record demand for our all-new, fuel-efficient Fusion and Escape – with sales growth particularly strong on the coasts," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales, and service. "F-Series pickups also continue to build on their momentum as the housing and construction industries rebound."

Bottom line
2013 has been strong, and April gives us a hint that Ford's spectacular first quarter likely won't be the only good conference call of the year. Ford is starting off on the right foot and doesn't look to slow down now. Ford is making profitable and popular vehicles, and as people begin to take notice it should be a very profitable stock for investors.

Worried about Ford?
If you're concerned that Ford's turnaround has run its course, relax – there's good reason to think that the Blue Oval still has big growth opportunities ahead. We've outlined those opportunities in detail, in the Fool's premium Ford research service. If you're looking for some freshly updated guidance to Ford's prospects in coming years, you've come to the right place – click here to get started now.


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