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Ford Posts Quarterly Profit After Year-Earlier Loss

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Ford Motor Co. today reported a first-quarter profit compared with a year-earlier loss.

At the same time, Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford said second-quarter production would be reduced sharply by a global shortage of computer chips.

The automaker posted a quarterly profit of $3.26 billion, or 81 cents a share, compared with a loss of $1.99 billion, or 50 cents, in the first quarter of 2020. Quarterly revenue totaled $36.2 billion, up from $34.3 billion a year earlier.

The company said it expects to lose about 50 percent of its planned second-quarter production because of the computer chip shortage, made worse by a supplier fire. Ford previously said it had pared output by 17 percent in the first quarter.

Ford said the supply of computer chips may improve after the second quarter. Still, the automaker said it expects to lose 10 percent of its second-half vehicle production. The shortage may not be resolved until 2022, Ford said as part of its earnings announcement.

“Our team is relentlessly executing our plan to turn around our automotive business,” CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. “There’s no question we’re becoming a stronger, more resilient company.”

Automakers, under pressure from regulators globally, are developing more electric vehicles. Companies are under pressure to reduce greenhouse gases. Companies also are moving to bring self-driving vehicles to the market.

Ford relies on profit from large pickups and SUVs in its home North American market. The automaker is seeking to improve operations in other regions.

The automaker’s North American unit generated $2.95 billion in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) during the quarter. Ford’s global auto operations posted $3.4 billion in earnings before interest and taxes.

Auto operations outside of North America had quarterly EBIT of $454 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $526 million a year ago, Ford said.

The auto industry, like other manufacturing, felt the impact of the COVID-19 impact in early 2020. In North America, auto plants reopened in May 2020 after implementing new safety procedures. Demand for vehicles picked up relatively quickly. But the computer chip shortage has presented a headwind for automakers.

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