Last week I wrote:
Of all the companies reporting next week, I’m the most optimistic about Ford Motor (F). In April, the automaker earned 41 cents per share, which was four cents more than consensus. This time around, Wall Street again expects 37 cents per share. I think Ford will easily beat that.
I was right. Ford (F) earned 45 cents per share, which was eight cents more than Wall Street’s consensus, and the stock surged as high as $17.68 per share. I’d like to say that this was due to magical predictive powers on my part. Alas, that’s not the case. Truthfully, it was nothing more than simple math. Yet it’s surprising how often that skill set is a major advantage in investing.
The facts are clear. Ford’s business is strong, and most of it is due to truck buyers in North America. Fusion has also been a key area of strength. Let’s run through some of the numbers. Ford’s net earnings surged 19% last quarter to $1.2 billion. Their revenues rose 15% to $38.1 billion. This was Ford’s 16th-straight profitable quarter. Furthermore, unlike some other American car companies I could name, Ford was not bailed out by Uncle Sam.
Ford made a cool $2.3 billion in North America. Sales of their F-Series trucks rose 26% to 198,643 units. I think this is closely tied to a lot of the emerging manufacturing rebound we’ve seen in some economic statistics. (By the way, the durable-goods report on Thursday was quite strong).
The problem child is still Europe. Ford had a pre-tax loss of $348 million in the Old World. Of course, a loss was expected. We know that Europe has been a drag on Ford, but they’re quickly working to economize their European operations. I think we’re going to see much better results in Europe in future quarters.
I was very pleased to hear that Ford offered improved guidance for the rest of the year. They now see pre-tax earnings clearing $8 billion for 2013. Before, they said they had expected to hit $8 billion. So far, they’ve made $4.7 billion in the first half of the year, so the new guidance seems quite reasonable. In Europe, Ford said they expect to lose $1.8 billion instead of the earlier projected $2 billion. That’s ugly, but not as ugly.
Ford also had a blow-out quarter in Asia. The company makes a big deal about this, but Asia is a very small part of their business. That could change. Ford plans to introduce 15 new vehicles in China by 2015. I’d like to see Ford raise its dividend by 20% to 25%. They can easily afford it. Ford remains an excellent buy up to $18 per share.