Ford posts higher profit but faces pressure in U.S.

Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:02pm EST
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By Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall

DEARBORN, Michigan (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) reported higher-than-expected quarterly results on Tuesday as earnings in its core North American market fell less steeply than Wall Street expected, but declining vehicle prices there raised concerns about 2014.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker also affirmed the 2014 profit outlook it presented to investors last month.

Ford has described 2014 as a transition period that will test the strength of Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally's team and the company's restructuring since he took over in 2006. This year will also bring the critical introduction of the redesigned F-150 full-size pickup truck in the fall.

Guggenheim Securities analyst Matthew Stover said Ford's first quarterly drop in North American vehicle pricing in five years was ominous.

"It sort of foreshadows what we will see in 2014," he said. "North America is going through a churn, and international operations are not going to be strong enough to offset that."

Ford said last month that vehicle pricing in the U.S. market would be "slightly unfavorable" in 2014. That combined with the cost of introducing 23 new vehicles and a deteriorating Venezuelan economy would dent its profit this year, the company said.

On Tuesday, shares of Ford were up 0.2 percent at $15.74 in midday trading.

Ford's net income in the fourth quarter rose to $3 billion, or 74 cents a share, from almost $1.6 billion, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.   Continued...

A Ford logo is seen on the grill of a 2015 F-150 truck outside the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York, January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson