Ford posts quarterly loss amid struggles in Europe, China

DEARBORN, Michigan (AP) – Ford Motor Co, which has struggled overseas and saw US sales fall last year, reported its first quarterly net loss in two years on Wednesday.

The Dearborn, Michigan company said it lost USD116 million, or three cents a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with a USD2.52 billion profit a year earlier. It last posted a quarterly loss in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The loss included an USD877 million one-time charge to revalue global pension assets due to a late-year market slide.

Ford made USD3.68 billion for the full year, but that was only about half of what its net profit was in 2017. North America was its only profitable region.

“It’s not a year that we were happy with,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told reporters.

This September 27, 2018 file photo shows a United Auto Workers employee working on a 2018 Ford F-150 truck being assembled at the Ford Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan. – AP

“I think the fourth quarter kind of continued in that theme.” The annual and fourth-quarter performances sent company executives scrambling to explain to Wall Street analysts why it was taking so long to restructure and roll out new products that could increase sales and profits.

CEO Jim Hackett, who replaced the ousted Mark Fields in May of 2017, acknowledged frustration with the speed of Ford’s USD11 billion restructuring effort.

“It is what it takes to build an industrial model that we’re talking about, to do it the right way, to not have it fall apart,” he said on a conference call with analysts.

Shanks said the company has a good handle on its underperformance in China and Europe and said it is addressing problems.

The company, he said, is trying to flatten its structure in the US to eliminate layers of bureaucracy, and those efforts will finish in April. Cost savings from Europe should start showing up this year, he said.

Hackett said the company was slow to refresh its vehicles around the globe. “We were constipated in product development,” he said, adding that Ford has updated its vehicles and propulsion systems while cutting costs.

Ford also is in the middle of a new product rollout largely in China and North America, and this month announced a restructuring of its European business that included layoffs and factory cuts.