Ford flexes muscle overseas on strong demand

Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:31pm EDT
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By Deepa Seetharaman and Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) boosted its full-year outlook and posted a second-quarter profit that trounced expectations on stronger demand for its cars and trucks in China and South America as well as a smaller-than-anticipated loss in Europe.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker also was more optimistic about the global picture, boosting its forecast for full-year operating profit and industry sales in several regions including China and Europe.

"We're at the beginning of the phase where over the next several years you'll start to see the operations outside North America take on more and more significance," Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told reporters. "You're starting to see what's possible."

Ford shares were up 3.6 percent to $17.54, the largest one-day percentage move so far this year.

The results reflected efforts to cut costs and simplify operations under Chief Executive Alan Mulally, who was hired in 2006 to steer the company through its financial crisis.

Improving consumer sentiment suggested Europe, where an economic downturn sent first-half industry sales to 20-year lows, "may have begun to stabilize," Mulally said on a conference call. Ford forecast a smaller loss in Europe this year - $1.8 billion versus its previous outlook of $2 billion.

"They still have the Europe economic headwinds in their face but maybe it's not blowing quite so hard," said Gary Bradshaw, portfolio manager with Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, which has boosted its holdings in Ford recently and now owns about 250,000 shares.


Ford logos are seen at the assembly line of the Ford car factory of Saarlouis, December 6, 2010. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler