Ford may lose up to $600 million in Europe in 2012: CFO

Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:50pm EST
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By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) may lose up to $600 million in Europe this year as the ongoing debt crisis hurts overall auto sales in the region, Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said on Wednesday.

Industry-wide sales in Europe appear to be heading toward 14 million vehicles this year, Booth said. This represents the low end of Ford's annual sales forecast for the region.

"We've seen Europe get off to a tough start," Booth told reporters at Ford's global headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. "We think Europe is much more likely now to be at the bottom end of the scale."

If that happens, Ford is likely to lose between $500 million and $600 million in the region. A loss of that magnitude would dwarf the $27 million Ford lost in Europe last year.

But Booth said Ford was confident in its overall profit outlook for the year because it expects strong results in North America, where auto sales are on the rise.

"We feel OK about the guidance we've given for the total company," Booth said.

Ford had projected new vehicle sales in Europe to be between 14 million and 15 million this year, down from 15.3 million vehicles in 2011.

Europe's debt crisis has depressed demand for new vehicles in the 19 markets Ford tracks in the region, where automakers had already been contending with overcapacity, paper-thin margins and tough price competition.   Continued...