1 Key Aspect in Ford's Third Quarter


Ford's F-Series continues to drive strong profits. Photo Credit: Ford

As expected, Ford (NYSE: F  ) posted excellent third-quarter results and handily beat Wall Street estimates. Ford has grown revenues over the last four quarters through a combination of fuel economy, value, and success internationally.

Yes, you read that correctly – through value and fuel economy.

That statement would have gotten someone thrown in the loony bin a decade ago, but now it's the reality that continues to fuel Ford's earnings. Here are some of the highlights in Ford's third quarter and one big development for the company.

Quick hits 

  • Revenue jumped 12% from last year's third quarter to $36 billion.
  • Record third-quarter pre-tax profit of $2.6 billion; that's a $426 million improvement from a year ago.
  • Third-quarter earnings per share came in at $0.45 per share, above the $0.37 estimates.
  • Record third-quarter automotive operating related cash flow hit $1.6 billion; that's a $1 billion improvement from a year ago.
  • $7.3 billion pre-tax profit maintained through the first nine months; that's also a $1 billion improvement compared to a year ago.
  • Year-over-year market share gains achieved in all regions.

Ford's Focus has been selling well in Europe. Photo Credit: Ford

A big development
Ford's confident that healthy demand remains and raised its full-year guidance; it now expects to bring in higher pre-tax profits than in 2012 as well as higher operating margins. Ford and its investors were pleased with the results, sending the stock price up nearly 4% in early trading before settling back down.

While North America continues to drive most of Ford's profits, its improvement internationally caught my eye. As I expected, and was specifically looking for, Ford's losses in Europe narrowed significantly and management now expects losses to be less than last year's $1.7 billion mark – officially marking the bottom of its losses in the region. Ford's losses in Europe totaled $228 million in the third quarter which was a $240 million improvement from last year and $120 million better from the prior quarter.

This is further proof that the plan to restructure Europe is paying off. Ford closed two factories in the U.K. and reduced its European manufacturing capacity by 18% – a substantial reduction. Ford's restructuring moves could save as much as $500 million annually. On the other side of the equation, Ford continues to grow its sales and market share in the region which has sped up its recovery in Europe.

Ford's wholesale volume and revenue in Europe jumped 5% and 12%, respectively, in the third quarter and should continue to improve as the company releases new models into the region – including the highly anticipated 2015 Mustang. Make no mistake, this is a big deal for investors. Breaking even, or dare I say turning a profit, as planned in 2015 marks the fastest way for the company to grow its earnings per share. As that continues to unfold over the next few quarters, expect Ford's stock price to reflect the positive development. 

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