Ford Posts $2 Billion Profit - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Ford Posts $2 Billion Profit

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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Ford Motor Co. says it earned $2.1 billion in the first quarter, another sign the economy is improving as people spend more on big-ticket items like cars.

Ford said its net income per share was 50 cents for the quarter.

That's an about-face from the same period last year when it lost $1.4 billion, or 60 cents per share, at the height of the recession. It was Ford's fourth straight positive quarter and its highest quarterly profit in six years.

Ford, the only Detroit-area automaker to shun government aid and stay out of bankruptcy protection last year, gained market share from crosstown rivals General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

It also benefited from Toyota Motor Corp.'s safety recalls of millions of vehicles. Ford was one of the top brands considered by Toyota owners who were shopping for a new car, Kelley Blue Book said.

In a sign of its confidence in the economic recovery, Ford said it's boosting North American production in the second quarter to 625,000 vehicles, a 9 percent increase over first-quarter levels.

The increase could mean additional hiring by Ford, but Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said Tuesday it's too early to say if the company will be adding workers.

"If we continue to grow, maybe we'll talk about that sometime later," Booth said.

The company was profitable in its key North American market, but it also made money in Asia, South America and Europe. In the U.S., it saw strong sales of the F-150 pickup and Ford Fusion sedan, while the new Fiesta small car sold well in Asia.

Booth said the company is seeing some economic recovery, especially in the U.S., but the recovery isn't exceeding Ford's earlier prediction of 11.5 million to 12.5 million in total U.S. sales for the year. That would be up from 10.4 million in 2009 but far below sales of more than 16 million five years ago.

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