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    Ford Foiled by $4 Gasoline After 1st-Quarter `Mirage'

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    Ford Foiled by $4 Gasoline After 1st-Quarter `Mirage'

    Post by sang_garuda on Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:15 am

    Ford Motor Co.'s turnaround plan has been derailed by $4-a-gallon gasoline, dashing investor hopes raised after Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally produced a surprise first-quarter profit.

    Tomorrow he's expected to report a second-quarter loss of 25 cents a share, the average of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg, on plunging sales of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles. The forecasts exclude what the world's third-biggest automaker calls one-time costs. A year earlier, Ford had a profit on that basis of $258 million, or 13 cents.

    ``Confidence in our plan is really increasing,'' Mulally said in an interview on April 24, after Ford reported first- quarter earnings of $100 million, or 5 cents a share. A month later, as record fuel prices hurt sales and an 82 percent increase in steel costs drove up expenses, he backed off his goal of returning to an annual profit next year.

    ``The first quarter came out of the blue,'' said Mirko Mikelic, a senior portfolio manager at Fifth Third Asset Management in Grand Rapids, Michigan, whose assets include Ford bonds. ``In many respects, it was a mirage.''

    A loss would be the sixth in eight quarters since Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford recruited Mulally, 62, from Boeing Co. in September 2006. The automaker has lost $15.3 billion in the past two years and hasn't posted an annual profit since 2005.

    Mulally declined to be interviewed for this story, Ford spokeswoman Karen Hampton said in an e-mail.

    23-Year Low

    Ford shares slid to a 23-year low of $4.36 on July 2, after reaching a high for 2008 of $8.48 on May 1. The stock had risen on the first-quarter profit and disclosures by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian that he had acquired Ford shares. He holds a 6.5 percent stake. The shares gained 19 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $6.03 at 4:03 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

    Mulally tomorrow also is scheduled to discuss further changes to his recovery effort. On June 20, when the company forecast that this year's losses would widen because of fuel costs, Ford said it will build versions of the European Focus small car in North America starting in 2010. More details would be provided as part of the second-quarter earnings report, Ford said then.

    Demand for Ford's big pickups and SUVs collapsed as the price of regular gasoline rose 80 cents, or 24 percent, to an average of $4.09 a gallon in the quarter, according to motorist group AAA. Consumers responded by shifting to cars and smaller SUVs.

    F-Series Stumble

    Sales of Ford's F-Series large pickups, which account for about a quarter of U.S. sales, fell 31 percent in the quarter to 126,575. Ford's total U.S. sales tumbled 12 percent in April, 16 percent in May and 28 percent in June.

    U.S. sales of General Motors Corp. in those months slid 16 percent, 28 percent and 18 percent. Toyota posted a 3.4 percent increase in May followed by declines of 4.3 percent and 21 percent. GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said June 15 the automaker would cut salaried costs by 20 percent, suspend its dividend and sell more assets to help raise $15 billion.

    The weakening U.S. economy and the shift in consumer behavior driven by gasoline costs have dragged U.S. vehicle sales to their lowest levels in 15 years. In the U.S., the so-called Misery Index, the sum of the unemployment and inflation rates, is the highest since January 1993.

    F-Series trucks, the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. for 26 years, were dethroned the past two months by Honda Motor Co.'s Civic and Accord and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry and Corolla.

    Ford since the 1990s has relied on large trucks for most of its earnings. Ford got 63 percent of its first-half U.S. sales from pickups, SUVs and vans and derives about 45 percent of its automotive revenue from North America.

    Mulally has cited the rapid slide in F-Series sales and rising fuel prices for his retreat from the company's goal of a 2009 profit and for revamping his recovery plan.

    `Structural Shift'

    ``This is a structural shift and we needed to respond quickly,'' he told reporters May 22 in Detroit. ``It was clear to us that it was time to assume going forward we had more of a permanent shift.''

    On June 5, he announced plans to cut North American salary costs 15 percent by Aug. 1. The job reductions began last month, and Ford hasn't said what the total will be. The company is offering buyouts to union workers at most of its factories, and 4,200 hourly workers have agreed to leave this year. In the previous two years, Ford has cut 46,300.

    Ford's 7.45 percent note due July 2031 rose 1 cent today to 58.75 cents on the dollar. The yield fell to 13.25 percent.

    The cost to protect Ford debt from default rose to 1,404 basis points today from 1,214 on April 1, according to CMA Datavision in New York. An increase in the price indicates a decline in the perception of a company's credit quality.


    So far, Mulally has the support of Kerkorian, whom he met with last month. Jerry York, an adviser to Kerkorian, said in an April 28 interview the automaker has ``really started moving the needle'' under its CEO.

    Bernie McGinn, president of McGinn Investment Management Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia, which owns about 325,000 of Ford shares, said he also backs Mulally's turnaround plan. ``The story with Ford has always been a long term, step-by-step process,'' McGinn said ``When it's long term, there's always a couple of curve balls.''
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    Re: Ford Foiled by $4 Gasoline After 1st-Quarter `Mirage'

    Post by car0_linex on Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:42 pm

    thank 4 sharing affraid

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    Re: Ford Foiled by $4 Gasoline After 1st-Quarter `Mirage'

    Post by sodong on Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:32 am

    thanks 4 info bro garuda rock
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    Re: Ford Foiled by $4 Gasoline After 1st-Quarter `Mirage'

    Post by Prodip2007 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:30 am

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