By TOM KRISHER
AP Auto Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income fell 90% from a year earlier, leading company officials to say the automaker’s costs are too high and to pledge more belt-tightening this year.
CEO Jim Farley said Ford should have done better last year, and it left $2 billion in profits on the table that were within its control. He said Ford will correct that with improved execution this year.
The global shortage of computer chips and other parts hit Ford hard at the end of last year, costing it production of roughly 100,000 vehicles that could have been sold, Chief Financial Officer John Lawler told reporters.
“Our cost structure is not competitive, and our quality is not where it needs to be,” Lawler said. He did not rule out further white-collar layoffs and said the company needs to cut manufacturing and warranty costs.
Lawler also said Ford sees a mild recession in the U.S. this year and a moderate one in Europe.
The Dearborn, Michigan, automaker said it made $1.26 billion from October through December, with revenue up 17% to $44 billion. The company made an adjusted 51 cents per share, falling short of Wall Street estimates of 62 cents.
Quarterly revenue, however, exceeded estimates of $41.39 billion, according to analysts polled by FactSet.
Ford, which announced earnings after Thursday’s closing bell, saw its shares fall 6.6% in after-hours trading.
Ford’s sales in the U.S., its most profitable market, dropped 5% during the fourth quarter as the company was hit hard by parts shortages along with other automakers.
Ford’s performance comes with a backdrop of rising interest rates and declining vehicle sales overall. The Federal Reserve raised its key rate 0.25% on Wednesday to a range off 4.5% to 4.75% as it continues to battle stubborn inflation. The increase is almost certain to raise the average new auto loan rate above January’s 6.9%, making it more expensive to buy vehicles, according to data from Edmunds.com.
Strong prices for Ford vehicles helped to offset declining sales. Customers paid an average of $56,143 for company vehicles in the fourth quarter, about 10% more than the previous year. Many of those sales were high-end trucks and SUVs.
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