Ford Tops Analysts Predictions

Ford Motor Co. said it topped Wall Street forecasts for the first quarter Thursday, although its profit fell more than 45% from a year earlier. The company said profits dropped because it built and sold fewer vehicles in North America. However, Ford president and CEO Jacques Nasser said the first-quarter results gives the company a solid foundation for 2001. “Our first-quarter performance shows the

Ford Motor Co. said it topped Wall Street forecasts for the first quarter Thursday, although its profit fell more than 45% from a year earlier. The company said profits dropped because it built and sold fewer vehicles in North America.

However, Ford president and CEO Jacques Nasser said the first-quarter results gives the company a solid foundation for 2001.

“Our first-quarter performance shows the underlying strengths of Ford Motor Company in an uncertain economic environment,” said Nasser. “We have a great team, strong brands, strong products and a strong balance sheet. This combination provided us with the platform to produce good results in an unsettled economic environment.”

Net income fell to $1.06 billion from $1.93 billion a year earlier. Sales declined 1% to $42.4 billion from $42.9 billion.

Ford built 15% fewer vehicles in North America, its biggest market, as sales slowed after two record years. Ford's U.S. light-vehicle sales fell 12%, in part because of the delayed introduction of the 2002 Explorer SUV.

Net income included a noncash accounting adjustment of $72 million, or about $0.04. Excluding the accounting change, profit from continuing operations would have been $1.13 billion, or $0.60, Ford said.

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