Ford Motor posted a $2.3 billion quarterly net profit, mainly due to gains from a $10 billion debt-reduction plan, and said it was on track to at least break even in 2011, sending its shares up 10 percent.
Ford posted an operating loss for the quarter that was better than analysts expected, excluding a net gain of $2.8 billion from one-time items that included the debt-reduction actions, despite reeling global markets that helped push US rivals General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy.
Ford expects the US economy to start to come back in the third quarter, with further improvement in the fourth quarter and into 2010, but it is “still a very fragile economy,” Chief Executive Alan Mulally said in a conference call.
An overall and North American profit in 2011 would be the first such mark for the US automaker since 2004.
Ford posted a net profit of 69 cents per share for the second quarter, versus a net loss of $2.7 billion, or $3.89 per share, a year earlier.
The loss from continuing operations and excluding one-time items was $638 million, or 21 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 50 cents per share on that basis, according to Reuters Estimates.
Revenue fell to $27.2 billion in the quarter, from $38.2 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected $23.39 billion.
Ford said its auto business burned through $1 billion in cash in the second quarter, an easing from the first quarter’s $3.7 billion outflow. The automaker said it expects cash flow to improve the rest of the year.
“The cash burn is really being wiped off quickly,” said Erich Merkle, president of auto consulting firm Autoconomy.com. “They are well ahead of schedule. I think Ford returning to profitability will be sooner than most expect.”
Ford cut its automotive debt by about $10 billion by completing a series of transactions in early April, and raised $1.6 billion through a public stock offering in May, using proceeds to support funding for a US union retiree healthcare trust. It expects to pursue more balance sheet improvements.
Meanwhile, Ford executives have said the company has sufficient liquidity to complete a turnaround plan, leaving investors focused on cash preservation and debt reduction.
The automotive business ended June with $21.0 billion in cash, compared with $21.3 billion at the end of March. Its debt burden stood at $26.1 billion at the end of June, down from $32.1 billion at the end of March.
The company borrowed $23 billion in 2006, secured by most of its remaining assets, including the Blue Oval logo, to support a multilayered restructuring and now carries a far heavier debt burden than post-bankruptcy GM and Chrysler.
Ford posted losses totaling $30 billion from 2006 through 2008 – including a company record of $14.7 billion last year – and reported a $1.43 billion loss in the first quarter.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has been navigating a US downturn now in its fourth year with industry sales reaching their worst levels in three decades. It has not taken emergency US government loans.
Ford’s US sales fell about 33 percent in the first half of 2009, the best result among the top six-selling automakers.
Overall, Ford expects US auto industry sales of 10.5 million to 11 million vehicles in 2009, including medium and heavy duty trucks. Ford’s planning assumptions for 2010 call for US industry sales of 12.5 million vehicles next year.
The automaker is restructuring to operate profitably in a smaller US auto market and to meet an expected increase in consumer preferences for cars over larger SUVs and pickup trucks that drove profits a decade ago.
About 1,000 United Auto Workers-represented hourly employees accepted buyouts or early retirements in its latest offer, leaving Ford with about 47,000 hourly workers, a level it is comfortable with, the automaker said.
In recent weeks, Ford also reached an agreement with the UAW to adjust its funding options for the retiree healthcare trust, known as a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association.
The agreement gives Ford the option to make half of its required contributions in stock at the market rate for payments due in 2009, 2010 and 2011, rather than a fixed stock price, making it potentially less dilutive with the shares rising.
The automaker remains in talks with the UAW on other issues to ensure that Ford has a labor cost parity following the concessions the union granted to GM and Chrysler.
The automaker has sold several businesses to raise cash and focus its operations including its Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover brands from its former premier auto group. Ford is also entertaining offers for its Volvo brand.
Booth said Ford was talking to a number of interested parties for Volvo, the Swedish luxury car brand that is the last member left from its premier auto group.
Ford Credit, the automaker’s captive financing arm, reported net income of $413 million in the quarter, up from a $1.4 billion net loss a year earlier.
Ford shares were up 65 cents or 10.2 percent at $7.03 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, a 14-month high.
Foreign Exchange Traders Resume Business After Protest
Normalcy has returned to the foreign exchange market along the Hotel Presidential, Aba/Port Harcourt expressway, Port Harcourt, following the protest staged on Tuesday by the foreign exchange traders over the death of their colleague, Yusuf Lada.
Lada was allegedly killed by the personnel of the Rivers State Task force on Illegal Street Trading, Motor Parks and Mechanics.
Speaking to The Tide yesterday, the spokesman of the traders, Jubril Isa, said the road was blocked on Tuesday to protest against the alleged killing of their member by the personnel of the state task force.
He accused members of the task force of regularly extorting money from them.
He said, “we protested because of our Muslim brother, we can no longer allow members of the task force to be extorting money from us. Sometimes, they will come and arrest about 12 of our members and ask them to pay N120,000 each for their release.
“In about two weeks they will come again and arrest sometimes about 22 persons and ask them to pay N8,000 each to be released. Some of them may not have the money. The late man was whisked away and was brought back after 30 minutes and in about 15 minutes, he fainted and died.”
Reacting to the allegation, the chairman of the task force, Hon. Bright Amaewhule, explained that “the traders use the bus stop stand at Presidential Hotel as a restaurant, a kind of “mama put” to transact illegal trading business. The zonal team leader of that area went there and arrested some people, and took them to court. The policemen found out that the man was not in a stable condition, so they allowed him to go and cautioned him not to go back to the place again.
“Upon that police advice, they put him back in to vehicle and returned him where he was arrested; the man came down from the car and moved his way. Just about 15 minutes after disengagement with him, he slumped down and that led to his death. So there was no fracas, no fighting, no hijacking or dragging between my task force and the people.”
Meanwhile, the chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum, Rivers State Chapter, Musa Saidu, has demanded that the task force agent that allegedly masterminded the death of their colleague be brought to book, because the task force’s mandate, according to him, was to decongest the road in the state and not to take life.
He urged the law enforcement agent to act fast to ensure that the perpetrators of the act were prosecuted.
Saidu enjoined their members to remain calm and go about their lawful business and ensure that they operated within the ambit of the law of the land, while the police carry out their investigation into the matter.
Also, the spokesman of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Salami Ibrahim, has also condemned the alleged killing of the forex trader, urging the police to investigate and arrest the masterminds of the man’s death.
A cross section of foreign exchange traders who spoke to our correspondent alleged that the task force men always made demands from them.
A trader, Abu Danladi, said, “we want to sit down with the Rivers State Government and talk; sometimes, the task force used to arrest 10, 15, 20 of our people at a stretch, and each will pay N120,000 for their release. Sometimes, they carried them to main office, sometimes on the main road.
“They search you and whatever they see in your pocket, they collect; both dollar or naira, they will seize it before you are released. Government should check the excesses of the task force before they create problem that may lead to so many things unforeseen.
FG Shortlists Ethiopian Airlines, Others For Aircraft Maintenance
The Ethiopian Airlines and a consortium of A.J. Walters/Glovesly/Egypt Air have been shortlisted by the federal government for the proposed aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility.
Also, the A.J. Walters/Gloversly/ Egypt Air consortium has also been shortlisted as the best and preferred bidder for the Aviation Leasing Company.
This was contained in a statement made available to aviation correspondents yesterday, by the Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu.
The statement explained that the processes for establishing the facilities were jointly among stakeholders.
“The processes for the establishment of both the aviation leasing company and the Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO) facilities were components of the federal government’s aviation sector roadmap.
“The companies were selected during a process that involved officials of the ministry of aviation, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), infrastructure concession regulatory commission, federal ministry of finance, aviation labour unions, transaction advisers and prospective investors.
“At the end of the conference, one company; a consortium of A.Walter/ Gloversly/Egypt Air was shortlisted for the aviation leasing company, for the maintenance, repairs and overhaul facility.
“Two companies, namely A.J Walters/ Gloversly/Egypt Air and Ethiopian Airlines were shortlisted out of seven that expressed interest”, the statement explained.
The Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Alhaji Muhammed Shehu, who is also the chairman of the project delivery team was also quoted in the statement to have said that the process marked another phase of the Federal Government’s determination to ensure the realisation of the MRO project in the country.
Mining Firms To Pay Higher Royalties Soon – FG
The Federal Government has said that mining companies in the country will soon start paying ‘accurate’ mineral royalties from the proceeds of their operations.
Mineral royalty is tax paid to the government by miners based on a portion of earnings from production. It varies depending on the type of mineral and market conditions.
Operators in the mining sector, who are worried over the plan, had urged the government to come up with interventions to boost production capacity in the industry before increasing the taxes.
However, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah, said the federal government would soon come up with a new policy to ensure that accurate royalties were paid by the miners.
Ogah spoke during a tour of two mining companies, Venus Mining Company and Corner Stone Quarry, located in Dutse, Bwari Area Council, in Abuja.
Nigeria’s mineral rates, currently pegged at 3.5 per cent, is believed to be among the lowest in the world.
The minister explained that mining companies would be required to submit the printouts of their Weigh Bridges to the ministry “so that the exact royalties based on their sales record could be accurately calculated and paid to the government”.
According to him, payment of accurate royalties to government will help to provide much needed funds for infrastructural development in the country.
Ogah enjoined the managements of the companies to ensure that they have functional licences, and that their operations adhered to mining regulations.
He assured that the Federal Government was committed to the provision of an enabling environment for investors in the mining sector.
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