Ford tops first-quarter earnings estimates as commercial unit offsets EV losses

The Ford display at the New York International Auto Show on March 28, 2024. 

Danielle DeVries | CNBC

DETROIT — Sales of Ford Motor trucks and other commercial vehicles led the automaker to beat Wall Street’s earnings estimates for the first quarter, offsetting losses of its electric vehicles.

The company maintained its 2024 earnings guidance of adjusted earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT, of between $10 billion and $12 billion. It slightly lowered capital expenditure expectations and raised its adjusted free cash flow outlook for the year.

The automaker now expects to generate adjusted free cash flow of $6.5 billion to $7.5 billion, up from a previous outlook of $6 billion to $7 billion. Its forecast for capital expenditures is now $8 billion to $9 billion, narrower than the $8 billion to $9.5 billion range it originally estimated.

Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler on Wednesday described the quarter as “solid,” with the company tracking to the higher end of its previously announced guidance.

While the automaker beat earnings estimates, it slightly missed on automotive revenue. Here are the results for Ford’s first quarter, compared with Wall Street expectations, according to LSEG:

  • Earnings per share: 49 cents adjusted vs. 42 cents expected
  • Automotive revenue: $39.89 billion vs. $40.10 billion expected

Ford’s overall revenue for the first quarter, including its credit business, increased about 3% year over year to $42.78 billion.

Net income for the period was $1.33 billion, or 33 cents per share, compared with $1.76 billion, or 44 cents, a year earlier. Adjusted EBIT declined 18% year over year to $2.76 billion, or 49 cents per share.

Ford’s traditional business, known as Ford Blue, reported adjusted earnings that were down 66% compared to a year earlier to $905 million. Its Ford Pro commercial business earned $3.01 billion, up 120% from the first quarter of last year. Ford’s Model e electric vehicle unit posted a $1.32 billion loss from January through March.

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2024 Ford vs. GM shares

The notable decline in Ford Blue was related to the launch of the company’s refreshed F-150 pickup, which it held shipments of during most of the quarter to address undisclosed quality issues.

Ford CEO Jim Farley said the company avoided “about 12 recalls” thanks to the additional quality checks during the stop-shipment, helping to lower warranty costs for the company.

“What we’re going to see long-term is less recalls and lower warranty costs because of this new process,” Farley said Wednesday during the company’s first-quarter earnings call. “I’m really proud of the team’s progress and quality and we have so much more to do.”

Ford has faced years of inflated warranty costs, including $1.9 billion in 2023, which have affected its earnings. The company last year said it has a $7 billion to $8 billion annual disadvantage compared to traditional rivals due to production costs, quality issues and other operational inefficiencies.

Ford previously said it assembled 144,000 of the F-150 full-size and Ranger midsize pickups during the first quarter of the year. Those vehicles began shipping to dealers and customers earlier this month. Roughly 92% of the pickups built were F-150s.

As part of its 2024 guidance, first released in February, Ford said it expected its EV business to lose between $5 billion and $5.5 billion this year. Ford Blue earnings were expected to be roughly flat at $7 billion to $7.5 billion for 2024, while Ford Pro was expected to come in around $8 billion to $9 billion for the full year.

Lawler said Ford remains on track this year to take $2 billion in costs out of the business through reductions in things such as materials, freight and manufacturing. He said much of those savings will occur during the second half of the year.

Ford’s first-quarter earnings come a day after its crosstown rival General Motors reported strong first-quarter results and raised its full-year guidance.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2024/04/24/ford-f-earnings-q1-2024.html

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