Ford Motor Co posted 2009 earnings of 2.7 billion USD, its first full-year profit since 2005, and said it expected a 2010 profit amid market share gains and a slow US auto sales recovery.
The company, whose fourth-quarter profit soundly beat Wall Street forecasts, attributed the full-year profit in part to cost-cutting, gains from debt reduction efforts, good results from its financing arm, and stronger pricing.
The automaker repeated its forecast that 2011 would be solidly profitable, but Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth cautioned that Ford still had to take steps to address its uncompetitive balance sheet and was watching for more signs that a fragile US economic recovery would continue.
For the fourth quarter, Ford posted a profit of 868 million USD compared with a year-earlier loss of 6 billion USD. Revenue rose to 35.4 billion from 29 billion.
Ford, the only large US automaker not to reorganize under a government-supported bankruptcy in 2009, gained market share last year amid the troubles of its rivals General Motors and Chrysler, which is now under management control of Italy's Fiat.
Ford posted losses totalling 30 billion from 2006 through 2008, including a record net loss of 14.7 billion in 2008. The automaker said it expects its US market share to remain flat or increase in 2010.
Ford reported US$3.1 billion of positive cash flow in the fourth quarter from its automotive operations. With the positive cash flow in the second half of 2009, Ford's total cash burn was US$300 million for the year, compared with a whopping US$19.5 billion in 2008.
The automaker is saddled with a much heavier debt load than GM and Chrysler, which had their balance sheets cleansed during their bankruptcy reorganizations. Ford said it ended the year with total automotive debt of 34.3 billion, up from 26.9 billion at the end of the third quarter mainly due to contributions to the retiree healthcare plan for the United Auto Workers union.