Ford's 1Q net income falls 24% as combustion engine unit sees sales and revenue decline

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.’s first-quarter net income fell 24% from a year ago as the company’s combustion engine vehicle unit saw revenue and sales decline.

The Dearborn, Michigan, automaker said Wednesday it made $1.33 billion from January through March, compared with $1.76 billion a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Ford made 49 cents per share, enough to beat analyst estimates of 43 cents, according to FactSet.

Revenue for the quarter was up 3.2% to $42.78 billion, but that fell short of Wall Street estimates of $42.93 billion.

Ford Blue, the combustion engine unit, made $905 million before taxes, down $1.7 billion from a year ago. Revenue was down 13%. The company blamed the declines on lower inventories and selection of F-150 pickups due to updating factories for a new model.

Chief Financial Officer John Lawler told reporters Wednesday that Ford will recover sales volume and selection later in the year, positioning the company for strong earnings.

But Ford Pro, the commercial vehicle unit, offset some of the decline, posting pretax earnings of just over $3 billion, with revenue up 36%.

But Model e, the electric vehicle business, lost $1.3 billion, almost $600 million more than the first quarter of last year. The company said it’s cutting costs, but those have been offset by electric vehicle price declines.

The company says its next generation of electric vehicles coming out in the next two to three years will be profitable. “We’ll do whatever it takes to be profitable in the first 12 months of our vehicles,” CEO Jim Farley told analysts.

The company held its full-year pretax earnings forecast at $10 billion to $12 billion, but Lawler predicted it would be toward the high end of the range.

It lowered an estimate of full-year capital spending to $8 billion to $9 billion, down from earlier guidance of $8 billion to $9.5 billion. The company said the reduced spending shows its commitment to using capital efficiently.

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