It can often be difficult for investors to keep up with vital information on companies, especially for a global automaker such as Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F). It's even more difficult to fully understand sales information without spending hours delving into details and numbers. In an effort to help you invest better, here are the key sales details in Ford's three most important markets: United States, Europe, and China.
Starting from the top
Let's take a look at Ford's profit machine: the U.S. The key takeaway here is that sales aren't as poor as they seem. Sure, Ford's 188,654 units sold last month was a 2% decline, while the industry put up a 6% year-over-year increase, but there was a good reason behind the sales decline.
First, Ford continues to improve its sales mix across the globe to become more profitable. That means Ford is focusing on healthier retail and fleet sales, while the automaker continues to pull back sales to daily rental channels. In fact, Ford has reduced its sales to rental channels by a staggering 18% through October. While the pullback in daily rental sales will make year-over-year sales comparisons a little tougher for the Blue Oval, it helps its vehicles' residual value and overall profit margins.
Second, as you likely have heard by now, Ford's on the eve of rolling out its aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150. The substantial change in its production and assembly process means plant downtime, and that's costing Ford roughly 90,000 units of the F-150. That's a big deal for Ford's sales volume, as the F-Series represents a significant chunk of sales -- in fact, the F-Series accounts for nearly 1 of every 3 Ford vehicles sold.
The last bright spot in Ford's U.S. sales figures is in its struggling Lincoln luxury lineup. Lincoln recorded a 25% gain over last October's results as the all-new MKC continues to rope in incremental sales. The MKC posted its best month of sales in its short six-month history with just under 2,200 units sold in October.
Ultimately, Ford's overall sales in its most important market weren't as poor as they first appear, and things will continue to improve through 2015.
Progress in Europe
Despite the doom and gloom that seems to cling to the European region, Ford continues to make progress. Ford's European sales jumped 8.1% in October and have climbed 7.8% for the full year, through October; that growth easily outpaces the overall industry's respective 6.5% increase in October and 6.1% year-to-date figures.
In a story similar to the one told in Ford's U.S. market, the automaker continues to improve its sales mix. Through October, 74% of Ford's sales in Europe were from the higher-value retail and fleet segments, which was a full 300 basis points better than the industry average.
Despite Ford being well known in the U.S. for its full-size trucks and popular SUVs, it's the automaker's passenger cars that lead the charge overseas. As you can see, Ford's Fiesta and Focus continue to be home run hits with the consumer and remain two of the best-selling nameplates globally.
While Ford's sales in the U.S. are better than they appear, and progress in Europe continues, one thing that can't be denied is that the automaker's progress in China is flat-out impressive.
Stellar growth in China
Ford China has sold just over 900,000 vehicles through the first 10 months of the year, which is a strong 22% gain over last year's 741,818 units during the same time frame. While Ford was indeed late to join the party overseas, and sells roughly one-third of the vehicles in China that its crosstown rival General Motors does, Ford's double-digit year-over-year sales gains will continue into 2015.
One bright spot in Ford's China sales figures is the Mondeo, or the Fusion as we know it in the U.S. market. The vehicle broke past the 100,000 sales mark for the first 10 months of the year, which is nearly double the 51,748 mark it posted for the same time frame last year.
Also, as Ford continues to ramp up its sales growth in China, the automaker launched its third assembly plant in Chongqing, China, which was a roughly $600 million investment. The plant will play a vital role going forward: It will increase Ford's passenger-vehicle production capacity by 360,000 and will also produce the Escort, which was a vehicle designed specifically for Chinese consumers.
What's it all mean?
All in all, October was a strong month for Ford as the automaker continues to make important sales progress overseas, improves its sales mix, and is gearing up to launch some of its most important vehicles in its most important market, right here in the U.S.
It's a busy time for the folks at the Blue Oval, and investors shouldn't expect anything to slow down, as 2015 will be a key year for the automaker to boost its top- and bottom-line performances on the back of a fresher vehicle lineup.