April 27, 2012 / 11:44 AM / 6 years ago

Ford earnings beats Wall Street estimates

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as strong results in North America helped offset weak international results and higher taxes.

A Ford logo is pictured at a press event to unveil the new 2011 Ford Explorer outside the Ford Motor World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan July 26, 2010. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Ford shares rose 2.4 percent to $12.16 in premarket trading after its profit from continuing operations beat expectations.

Excluding one-time items, the company reported a profit of 39 cents per share compared to analyst expectations of 35 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker reported first-quarter net income of $1.40 billion, or 35 cents per share, down from the $2.55 billion, or 61 cents a share, a year earlier.

About half that drop in net income was due to a higher tax rate after Ford made an accounting change late last year, it said.

Revenue fell to $32.4 billion from $33.1 billion. Analysts had expected $31.27 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For Europe, Ford reported a pretax loss of $149 million, hurt by dwindling auto demand as many countries there experienced recession-like conditions. It also reported a loss for its operations in Asia and Africa as well as lower earnings in South America.

Ford depended on its home market for strength. North American pretax earnings were $2.1 billion, up $289 million from a year ago. That quarterly profit was the best since at least 2000, when the company began breaking out regional results.

As China growth has decreased and European markets are weak, the company has said it is relying on North America to boost earnings this year.

Ford also announced a plan to offer lump-sum pension buyouts to salaried retirees and former employees who are vested in its pension plan, starting in the third quarter.

The buyout program, which Ford described as unprecedented in its magnitude, will take a year and help the company lower its pension obligations, which credit rating agencies typically see as debt.

In the first quarter, Ford recorded $255 million in special charges, largely due to buyouts of workers represented by the United Auto Workers union. About 1,700 of Ford’s 41,000 UAW-represented workers took the buyout package.

Additional reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn

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