Spurred by growing strength in Asia and Europe, automaker Ford Motor Co.’s worldwide sales rose in the first quarter of 2014…but weakness in North America dragged down the company’s profit.
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford’s first-quarter net income fell 39 per cent to US$989 million, down from US$1.64 billion in the January-March 2013 period.
Worldwide sales were up six per cent to nearly 1.6 million units, but Ford’s U.S. sales fell three per cent to 580,260 in the January-March period. While Ford’s F-Series pickup continued to see gains, sales of other key vehicles like the Fusion sedan and Escape SUV were down.
According to Ford’s chief financial officer Bob Shanks, the company had forecast lower sales in North America this year as it launches 16 new vehicles in the region. Shanks also said Ford’s North American operations were hit with US$100 million in weather-related charges during the hard winter of 2014-2014, including increased costs for parts shipments. Ford also spent US$60 million on two recalls this quarter. Revenue in the company’s most profitable region fell five per cent to US$20.4 billion.
Ford also continued to struggle in South America, posting a loss of US$510 million as industry sales dropped and Ford accounted for the effects of unfavorable currency exchange rates.
But the picture was rosier overseas. In China, first-quarter sales rose 45 per cent to 271,321 vehicles, and European sales rose 11 per cent to 326,000. Ford’s Asia Pacific region posted a record US$291 million pretax profit, reversing a US$28 million loss from a year ago. Revenue from that region jumped 18 per cent to US$2.6 billion.
Ford’s new Middle East and Africa region reported a US$54 million profit, meanwhile.
Ford enjoyed one of the best years in its history in 2013, with a pretax profit of US$8.56 billion.
But it had warned that this year would be leaner as it launches a record 23 vehicles worldwide and seven plants, including four in China.