September 30, 2014 / 4:34 AM / 5 years ago

Ford shares tumble on lower profit outlook for 2014-2015

DEARBORN (Reuters) - Higher recall costs in North America and steeper losses in Russia and South America have caused Ford Motor Co (F.N) to slash its forecast for pretax profit this year to $6 billion, from $7 billion to $8 billion previously, executives told investors at a briefing on Monday.

The logos of Ford and Mazda Motor Co are seen at the company's assembly plant in Pretoria July 18, 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer, also said the company’s 2015 pretax profit is now expected to rise to between $8.5 billion and $9.5 billion, versus analysts’ estimates of $10.6 billion.

Ford shares closed down 7.5 percent at $15.11 on Monday and fell further in after-hours trading to $15.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker revealed the bad news during the first investor day it has held under the leadership of Chief Executive Mark Fields, who took reins of the company from Alan Mulally on July 1. Mulally is credited with reversing a steep decline at Ford and returning it to profitability and an investment grade rating.

Fields said he is not concerned about what he sees as short-term bad news ahead of what he calls “a growth story,” including an increase in Ford’s global auto sales to 9.4 million vehicles by 2020 from 6.2 million in 2013.

He also said that laying out the bad news to investors at a conference center in Dearborn, Michigan near Ford headquarters was a sign of progress from the days when the company delayed action on difficult issues.

General Motors Co (GM.N) plans to host a similar investor day on Wednesday in Detroit.

Ford CFO Shanks said the company’s money-losing operations are targeted to achieve profit margins by 2020 of 7 percent to 9 percent in South America and 3 percent to 5 percent in Europe.

Repairs on recalled vehicles, mainly in North America, will cost the company about $1 billion, and losses in South America are expected to be higher than previously forecast, at nearly $1 billion, Shanks said.

Shanks also said that Ford now expects to lose about $300 million this year in Russia, more than previously expected.

Ford is forecasting a pretax operating profit margin of about 8 percent by 2020, Shanks said, adding that the company targets break-even at two-thirds of wholesale volume by 2018.

Ford said that the company will continue to make losses in South America in 2015, but not as much as this year.

Ford said it is on track for the important launch of the 2015 F-150 pickup truck. The first sales of that truck to U.S. consumers will take place late this year, said Joe Hinrichs, head of Ford’s operations in North America and South America.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Dearborn; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Matthew Lewis and Steve Orlofsky

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