Ford Motor Company's (NYSE:F) operations overseas in Europe have often evoked the same emotion as a frightening scene from any Halloween movie: You just wanted to run away and hide. That said, Ford has made consistent progress in terms of profitability in the region during recent quarters.
Now, with the book closed on Ford's first three quarters in its European region, it's time for investors to take a look at the figures and see what's going on.
By the numbers
To cap off the third quarter, Ford's European vehicle sales rose 8% last month for a total of 140,300 vehicles. Through the first nine months of 2015, Ford's year-over-year sales gain checked in at 10% for a total of nearly 980,000 vehicles.
Ford's gains were fairly widespread, as the automaker gained market share in 12 of its 20 traditional European markets: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and Poland.
That puts Ford's total market share at 8.9% in September and 8.1% year to date -- that's the best total vehicle market share Ford has recorded through the first three quarters since 2011. Also on a positive note, Ford was the No. 1 brand for commercial vehicle sales in Europe year to date, which was a big gain from ranking No. 7 just three years ago. Overall, Ford remains Europe's No. 2-selling brand for total vehicle and passenger car sales.
Roelant de Waard, vice president of marketing, sales and service for Ford of Europe, said in a press release: "We offer our customers not only one of the freshest and broadest vehicle line-ups in the industry, but also a wide range of technology options, including our fuel efficient EcoBoost petrol engines. Today, one of four cars is ordered with Ford EcoBoost technology, and one of five with the multi-award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine."
Another positive for Ford investors is that the company's combined sales in retail and fleet markets accounted for 73% of its passenger-car sales through the first three quarters of 2015; that's 3 percentage points, or 300 basis points, better than the industry average. Detroit's second-largest automaker also noted it was seeing a strong take rate for "more upscale and well-equipped" trim versions of its vehicles, such as the Titanium series.
As the 2015 Mustang's sales continue to race higher in the U.S., Ford is hoping to export this success overseas as the iconic pony car hits the road in overseas markets largely for the first time. Nearly 10,000 European customers have ordered the all-new Mustang, which went on sale in the region this past summer.
Other new Ford passenger cars are doing well, too. Sales of the all-new Mondeo (Fusion) were up 45% in September, compared to last year, and remain up 60% through the first three quarters of 2015. Furthermore, consumer orders for the new Focus were up nearly 37% in September, and the Fiesta was again the best-selling small car in Europe through the first eight months of 2015, according to Jato Dynamics.
One of the most anticipated figures from Ford's upcoming third-quarter earnings results will be the profitability, or lack thereof, in the automaker's European region. The region has been a black hole for profits in recent years, and investors are hoping to see consistent profitability, even if marginally, from the region from here on out.
Stay tuned: If these figures are any indication, Ford's position in the region is continuing to improve, and financial progress should follow.