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by Tim Beissmann

With little fuss or fanfare, Ford Motor Co last week announced that it recorded a before-tax operating profit of US$454 million (AUD$512 million) for 2009.

That figure is a significant turnaround from the US$6.9 billion ($7.8 billion) loss of 2008.

Its 2009 net profit of US$2.7 billion ($3.0 billion) ended three years of consecutive losses, the worst of those US$14.8 billion ($16.7 billion) in 2008.

Ford CEO, Alan Mulally, said the results were achieved through careful yet aggressive planning.

“During the worst economic recession in 30 or 40 years … because of the strength of the plan we put in place a few years ago, we were not only able to survive but also to create a foundation that is delivering now profitable growth during that year.”

The 2009 results were helped by Ford reducing its structural costs by US$5.5 billion (US$1.1 billion more than its goal) as well as an increased market share throughout Europe and North and South America in a gloomy sales environment.

Fourth quarter net income rose from a US$5.9 billion loss in 2008 to a US$868 million ($978 million) gain, while revenue was also up US$6.4 billion to US$35.4 billion ($39.9 billion) in 2009.

Compared to the industry average of a 21 percent decline, Ford’s US sales were down only 15.4 percent in 2009.

Expecting to be globally profitable this year and “solidly profitable” in 2011, Ford US is getting away to a good start by ramping up its first quarter production in North America by 20,000 vehicles to 570,000.

But Ford CFO, Lewis Booth, admitted there is still plenty of work to be done to make the company truly competitive again.

“We know we have some work to do to improve our balance sheet. I don’t feel anything other than a sense of great urgency when it comes to improving the business.

“We know that nobody is guaranteed a future,” Mr Booth said.

Ford borrowed more than US$23 billion ($25.9 billion) in 2006, helping it to avoid the fates of General Motors and Chrysler. Ford paid US$1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) in interest in 2009.

(with The New York Times)




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