Ford beats, has best-ever quarter for profits

Ford reported its first-quarter earnings in the US on Thursday, and they beat expectations.

The carmaker earned $0.68 a share on revenue of $US37.7 billion. Analysts had expected $0.48 a share.

It was Ford’s best-ever quarter, the company said, with a pretax profit of $3.8 billion and net income of $2.5 billion.

Ford joined General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — the Detroit “Big Three” — in reporting substantially better earnings than expected in the first quarter.

The US auto market has been booming. Cheap gas, flowing credit, and a stronger economy have all helped automakers sell a lot of profitable pickup trucks and SUVs, banking profits and bolstering their balance sheets.

Ford is particularly well positioned for the current market dynamics. Its F-150 full-size pickup has long been the best-selling vehicle in the US.

“The first quarter was an absolutely terrific start to the year — an all-time record for the company, with very strong performance across the business,” CEO Mark Fields said in a statement.

“We’re excited about our future and confident in our ability to deliver long-term growth and profitability, as we expand our business model to be both an auto and a mobility company.”

Ford stuck with its overall guidance for 2016: on par with 2015 and an operating margin of 9% to 10%.

The only weak point for Ford in the quarter was South America, where the automaker reported a $256 million loss. But the auto industry as a whole is struggling to hold the line in the region, which has been shaken by political and economic turmoil. Ford actually expects that market to worsen in 2016.

Ford shares traded higher in premarket action on Thursday, up 1% to $14. Despite turning in strong quarters, none of the Big Three have seen their stock prices surge this week.

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