Higher investments, sales drop to weigh on Ford first-quarter earnings

Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:25am EDT
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By Nick Carey

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) said on Thursday it expects lower earnings per share in the first quarter and lower pretax profit in 2017 due to higher spending on commodities, warranties and investments and a drop in sales volumes especially fleet sales.

Ford shares were down nearly 1 percent at $11.66 in late morning trading after the announcement, which preceded an investor presentation by the company's chief financial officer, Bob Shanks.

The presentation comes as the U.S. auto industry continues to see cars lose market share to trucks and SUVs, as low fuel prices have encouraged consumers to opt for larger vehicles that have become more fuel efficient in recent years.

"We think we can do more with trucks, we think we can do more with utility vehicles, we can do more with performance and we've got plans in place to do that," Shanks said. "We think this can lead to an even stronger position for us in the years ahead."

Ford said U.S. auto industry sales in 2017 should dip slightly to 17.7 million units, down from a record of 17.9 million in 2016. The company said sales should hit 17.5 million in 2018.

After a strong run in sales since emerging from the Great Recession earlier this decade, investors are watching to see whether the current boom cycle is losing steam.

Ford said it expects auto sales in China, the world's largest car market, to dip to 27.2 million this year from 27.5 million in 2016.

"We believe Ford's announcement today is the initial confirmation of our investment thesis that pricing is deteriorating in North America and in select international markets, particularly China," Buckingham Research Group analyst Joseph Amaturo wrote in a client note.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO:  Ford cars are seen on sale at a dealership of Genser company in Moscow, Russia, February 14, 2017.   REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo