DEARBORN - Ford Motor Company reported net income earnings of $1.6 billion in the third quarter of 2011 with contributions from The Americas leading the way with pre-tax operating profits of $1.3 billion.
“It was a really great third quarter for us,” said Mark Fields, addressing the Ford leadership team gathered at Ford World Headquarters Tuesday for The Americas Quarterly Business Review. He noted that this quarter marks the ninth in a row that the Americas have reported profits.
“That is consistency,” he said. “That is what gives us all confidence. And that is what the external world is looking at.”
Responding to recent news from Consumer Reports that Ford quality has dropped over the past year, Fields said the company is “all over the issues,” particularly regarding MyFord Touch and SYNC.
“Obviously we have a lot of work to do, and everybody is energized around that as we go forward because we know we want to get to industry leadership on quality,” he said. “We’re not going to let this bump in the road get us down.”
Fields recognized the Ford team in South America for what he described as “a strong, consistent performance.”
“They beat 2010. They beat the expectations laid out by the plan, and they recorded the 31st quarter in a row of profitability,” he said.
Fields also led a round of applause for Ford of Canada, which reported a third quarter profit and improved their performance versus a year ago.
“Not only has Canada maintained its No. 1 brand status year to date, but in the month of September, they had the highest retail share of the entire year,” he said.”
One of the highlights of the third quarter, according to Fields, was the ratification of the Ford-UAW contract.
“The UAW contract was a win-win for everyone,” he said. “It really improved our operational flexibility and our competitiveness.”
John Fleming, executive vice president, Manufacturing & Labor Affairs, echoed Fields’ sentiments, noting that he believes the success of the UAW-Ford negotiations was due largely to the fact that the Ford team had been planning for the talks since 2009.
“I liken negotiations to painting vehicles. It’s all in the preparation,” he said. “If you want to get a good paint finish by just applying the last coat, you probably won’t do it because it’s all around the preparation before you put the last coat on.”
Also at the America’s Quarterly Business Review, Ford Chief Economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick gave an overview of the current business environment.
“We do see global economic growth. It has slowed significantly, but we’re still moving ahead,” she said. “We’ve got continued growth in The Americas. We expect industry sales to continue to grow in this cycle, but not like the kind of growth we used to see in prior business cycles."
Dave Schoch, executive director and controller, Ford Corporate Finance, reported on company’s financial health, pointing out that Ford earned $5.3 billion in profits in the first nine months of 2011.
Schoch noted that Ford has moved up to a “BB” credit rating and is making great progress moving toward achieving investment grade status.
“The thing that’s going to tip us over the line is our operating performance. That’s what we can control – and we’re getting close,” he said.