Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) investors had reason to cheer this morning when the second-largest Detroit automaker posted its best quarterly profit since 2000. Ford's net income checked in at $1.9 billion, or $0.47 per share, for the second quarter, which was much higher than last year's $0.32 per share and this year's second-quarter estimates of $0.37 per share.
Here's the good news: Ford has expected the second half of 2015 to be better than the first half, and that hasn't changed. "We are confident the second half of the year will be even stronger," CEO Mark Fields noted in a press release.
Let's take a minute to zoom in on three key aspects from Ford's strong second quarter.
Of course, we can't report a strong quarter from Ford without mentioning its profit engine, North America.
Ford's North America pre-tax operating income rose to a record $2.6 billion in the second quarter on the back of very strong margins, which topped 11%. The automaker believes that its North America operating margin will check in at the high end of its forecast of between 8.5% and 9.5% for the full year, which is good news for investors craving more profitability from Detroit's second-largest automaker.
A big reason for the jump in profitability was the 2015 aluminum-bodied F-150. While sales of the newly designed full-size truck have yet to reach full speed due to a lack of inventory, the truck is selling for a staggering average of more than $44,000 per vehicle -- a juicy $3,600 higher than in last year's second quarter.
Also a moneymaker
Another driver of overall profits is an element often overlooked by investors: Ford Credit. While Ford Credit doesn't receive the attention that Ford's operating regions do, it posted a strong 16.5% gain in pre-tax profits, reaching $506 million. That pre-tax level is twice as much as Ford's Asia-Pacific region posted in the second quarter, a region that includes China and is Ford's second-most-profitable region.
Ford Credit's managed receivables checked in at $118 billion, a $7 billion increase from a year ago and $4 billion higher than at the end of last year. Another favorable tidbit of information from Ford Credit was the loss-to-receivables ratio, which was 0.17%, the low end of its historical level.
No problem in China, yet
Lastly, many analysts predicted that with the slowdown in China's economy and its stock market woes, the region would hinder global automakers. That didn't turn out to be the case.
Ford's pre-tax profit in Asia-Pacific, which is largely driven by results in China, reached a record $192 million in the second quarter. The better news is that the results took place during a quarter when Ford's wholesale sales in the region were down 13,000 units and revenue declined $500 million to a total of $2.4 billion.
The driving force behind Ford's juicier bottom line in Asia-Pacific was lower costs and a favorable exchange rate. Despite China's economic slowdown, Ford believes its second-half results in its Asia-Pacific operations will actually improve from the first half of 2015, with more manufacturing capacity coming on line and new vehicles being launched. For the full year, Ford expects pre-tax results to check in higher than last year.
Ultimately, while Ford was cautious and didn't raise full-year guidance, it's clear that the second half of 2015 is shaping up to be a very strong six months for investors who have been waiting for Ford to break out from a recent slowdown in profits.