Ford says it's already seeing a big impact from Trump's tariffs

David Ramos/GettyAn employee works on Ford Mondeo vehicles on the production line during assembly at Ford plant in Almussafes on February 5, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.

President Donald Trump’s recently imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminium were at least partially responsible for Ford’s costs going up by nearly half a billion dollars during its first quarter, the company said Wednesday.

“Automotive’s lower earnings-before-interest-and-taxes (EBIT) was caused by commodity cost increases of about $US480 million, along with adverse exchange effects of about $US240 million,” Robert Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer, said on the company’s first quarter earnings call Wednesday. “The increase in commodity cost was largely metals-driven, in part by the market’s reaction to potential increases in U.S. tariffs.”

Outside of the ballooning cost of raw materials, Ford’s expenses were relatively flat, the company said, helping fuel its adjusted earnings of $US0.43 per share on revenue of $US39 billion – both more than analysts had expected.

Back in 2014, Ford rolled out a big change in its F-150 pickup truck, one of its best-selling models of the flagship truck line, shifting to an aluminium body instead of steel one in a bid to increase fuel efficiency. That shift has yet to pay off as aluminium prices have spiked.

Last year, the company’s income in North America fell by 17% thanks to rising commodity prices, and that was before Trump’s tariffs were announced.

Now, Ford’s doubled down on truck sales while killing off sedans. In its earning announcement Wednesday, the automaker announced it would shrink its passenger car offering in North America to two models: the famous Mustang and a new Focus Active crossover SUV.

“We’re not going to be victims in this kind of thing,” CEO Jim Hackett said on the call in response to an analysts question. “Like everyone, we’re dealing with the sudden news, and I think we’ve done a great job internally of dealing with that.”

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