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Ford posts lower operating profit amid overseas losses

Reuters logo Reuters 1/23/2019 Nick Carey

Ford Motor on Wednesday posted a lower operating fourth-quarter profit as losses in every global region except for North America weighed on results.

"It was not a year we were happy with, and the fourth quarter continued that theme," chief financial officer Bob Shanks told reporters at the headquarters of the No. 2 U.S. automaker, which is restructuring its operations globally.

Last week, Ford provided a cloudier 2019 outlook due to tariff costs and uncertainty over Britain's exit from the European Union. Shanks reiterated on Wednesday that Ford's extensive presence in the country gave it a great deal of exposure to the effects of Brexit.

Ford said on Jan. 10 that it would cut thousands of jobs and look at plant closures in Europe as part of its plan to return to 6-percent operating margin in the region.

Ford posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $116 million or 3 cents a share, down from a net profit of $2.5 billion or 63 cents a share in the same quarter in 2017, which it attributed largely to one-time pension costs and charges associated with layoffs.

Excluding one-time charges, the company reported a net profit of 30 cents per share, in line with an outlook Ford executives provided last week.

The company's pretax margin fell to 3.5 percent from 4.9 percent a year earlier.

In North America, Ford posted a pretax profit of $2 billion. In every other region, the automaker posted a loss. The largest loss of $381 million was in Asia, driven by China where the company has seen sales plummet. 

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