DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 26 — Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) today reported third quarter net income of $1.7 billion, or 43 cents per share, a $690 million improvement from third quarter 2009, as strong products, momentum in North America and continued success at Ford Credit fueled growth amid still-challenging business conditions.
Excluding special items, Ford reported a pre-tax operating profit of $2.1 billion, or 48 cents per share, an improvement of $1.1 billion from a year ago. Ford has posted pre-tax operating profits for five consecutive quarters.
Ford’s third quarter revenue was $29 billion, a decline of $1.3 billion from the same period a year ago. Excluding Volvo revenue from 2009, Ford’s revenue in the third quarter was up $1.7 billion compared with the same period a year ago.
Ford North America posted a third quarter pre-tax operating profit of $1.6 billion, a $1.3 billion improvement from third quarter 2009. The company is on track to gain full-year market share in the U.S. for the second straight year, marking the first time since 1993 that Ford has achieved consecutive annual increases.
Ford also announced Automotive debt reduction actions to strengthen the balance sheet, including further paying down its revolving credit line by $2 billion in the third quarter; prepayment of the remaining $3.6 billion of debt owed to the VEBA retiree health care trust by the end of October; and conversion offers on two convertible debt securities in the fourth quarter.
“This was another strong quarter and we continue to gain momentum with our One Ford plan,” said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. “Delivering world class products and aggressively restructuring our business has enabled us to profitably grow even at low industry volumes in key regions.
“The key drivers for improvement in 2011 will be our growing product strength, a gradually strengthening economy and an unrelenting focus on improving the competitiveness of all our operations,” Mulally added.
Automotive operating-related cash flow was $900 million positive in the third quarter, primarily reflecting pre-tax operating profits. Ford finished the third quarter with $23.8 billion in Automotive gross cash, an increase of $1.9 billion since the second quarter. Including available credit lines, total Automotive liquidity was $29.4 billion at the end of the quarter.
The $2 billion revolver payment, made on Sept. 9, lowers Ford’s interest expense without impacting its overall liquidity. As of Sept. 30, Ford’s total Automotive debt was $26.4 billion.
On Friday, Ford will use cash to fully prepay the remaining $3.6 billion of debt it owes the VEBA retiree health care trust. This will lower ongoing annual interest expense by about $330 million. Including the VEBA payment in the fourth quarter, Ford will have reduced its total Automotive debt by $10.8 billion from year-end 2009, which will decrease its ongoing annual interest expense by about $800 million.
In addition, Ford has launched conversion offers for its senior convertible debt securities, of which $3.5 billion is outstanding and $2.6 billion is carried as debt on its Sept. 30, 2010 balance sheet. Holders will be offered a cash premium as an inducement for them to convert the debt into shares of Ford common stock.
Ford’s debt and interest expense will be reduced to the extent holders elect to accept the conversion offers. Completion of the conversion offers, however, will result in fourth quarter special items charges associated with the cash premium and the non-cash loss related to the debt retirement. Any shares issued under these conversion offers are already reflected in Ford’s fully diluted earnings per share calculation.
Even without the benefit of these conversion offers, Ford now expects its Automotive cash to be about equal to its debt by year end, earlier than previously expected. This will be an improvement of $8 billion to $9 billion from the end of last year.
“Our performance through the first nine months has clearly exceeded our initial expectations and is enabling us to make additional significant balance sheet improvements in the fourth quarter,” said Lewis Booth, Ford executive vice president and chief financial officer. “We are now in a period where we are focusing on growing the business profitably around the world following the hard work that has been done by the entire Ford team to fix the fundamentals of the business.”