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.
SON Plans Stiffer Penalties For Fake Products
Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has revealed that it would soon seek an amendment to the Act establishing the Agency, which would prescribe stiffer penalties or sanctions for importers and manufacturers of fake and sub-standard products in Nigeria.
Mallam Farouk Salim, Director General of SON, disclosed this in Abuja at a media briefing to mark the 50th-anniversary celebration of SON.
Salim explained that the provisions of the proposed law would not only stipulate that the importers and manufacturers of sub-standard products be fined, but also jailed on conviction by the court.
He said SON is poised to fight against counterfeit and sub-standard products across the country, adding that “any time Nigerians buy sub-standard products, they are aiding and abetting the closure of Nigerian industries and helping the youths to be unemployed.”
Commenting further on the effects of sub-standard products on the economy, Salim said the importers of counterfeit products contribute to the present insecurity in the country, as their activities have led to the collapse of industries in Nigeria.
Noting that the Act establishing the SON was last amended in 2015, he said, before 2015, the penalties were not very clear in the Act. So, the amendment has empowered us for conformity assessment.
“The reason we always amend the Act is that the world is evolving and industries are always changing
“The people following the rules are also changing. Hopefully, before the tenure of this administration, we will have another amendment that will be presented to the National Assembly.
“For example, in 2015, the penalty for importing sub-standard products was N1 million and N1 million now, is not significant.
“Most of these people importing these products are not poor, they are rich.
“In the industry where people break the rules, it is the consequences that stop them.
“So, we need to amend the Act to increase the jail term or give them the right to fine and make sure that jail term is added to it”.
On the activities of SON over the last 50 years of its existence, Salim said the organisation has gone through a lot of transformation and evolved to become a standards regulatory body of global recognition.
According to him: “It is important to emphasise that SON today has evolved into one of the world’s most reputable standards regulatory bodies due to good leadership demonstrated by the successive Chief Executives.
“This is seen in the various innovations championed by the past and present leaders of the organisation.
“Some of the notable innovations over time in the Organisation are the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) for local manufacturing, and Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) for offshore assessment of cargoes’’.
Speaking further on the milestones recorded by SON, he said: “To further demonstrate its desire for a more effective standardisation process, the Federal Government introduced the first ever Nigerian National Standardisation Strategy (NNSS) 2020 – 2022 as part of its economic diversification policy.
The strategy, which was developed by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), is designed to identify priority areas to focus on, based on national needs assessment.
The SON Governing Council recently approved 168 new Standards for publication and dissemination to various sectors of the nation’s economy in furtherance of the ongoing economic diversification policy.
Currently, SON is structured to lead every process that surrounds the preparation of standards relating to products, measurements, materials, and processes among others, and their promotion at the national, regional, and international levels.
“Working within the provisions of the Enabling Act, SON under my leadership, SON has been able to, through the Standards Council, designate, establish, and approve standards in respect of metrology, materials, commodities, structures, and processes for the certification of products in commerce and industry throughout Nigeria.
“SON is a member of international constellations of standards regulators such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
“Upon assumption of duty in September 2020, we have set some goals to make the Organisation to effectively deliver its mandate.
“So far, we have been able to facilitate the return of SON to the Ports and ensure the election of Nigeria into the standards management committee of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), among others.”
SON was established in 1970 with the creation of the Nigeria Standards Organisation (NSO) as a Department under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
Coy Begins Cargo Tracking In Lagos Port
Webb Fontaine, a leading service provide for Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has put in place cargo tracking system trade automation for use in Apapa Port.
This was disclosed to our correspondent by Webb Fontaine’s Operations Manager in Nigeria, Vlad Lonescu, who said the feat, which is a breakthrough and major milestone in NCS modernisation drive, will aid online, real-time, and live monitoring containers within controlled areas in the customs zone at the port and outside of the port.
According to him, anomalies such as containers missing in transit, tampering with the seal, broaching, and removal of cargo before the examination can be easily detected and traced using the technology.
It will also change the narrative that neighbouring countries like Benin Republic are ahead of Nigeria in areas of customs and ports aided automation.
According to him: “Customs officers trained by Webb Fontaine will operate the system that will aid in achieving more operational successes that could have been done manually”
The new system, he said, comes with many advantages including building shippers’ and port users’ confidence in theft prevention and curbing other unlawful activities.
“It will save the cost and time of using too much manpower to provide escort services for cargoes in transit as their movements within a geo-fenced zone will be monitored.
“Diversions of cargoes from specified movement itineraries will be swiftly detected with further preventive mechanisms activated to prevent loss or theft of cargo’’.
The feat in Apapa, which will also serve as test run that will be replicated in other ports across Nigeria, will help to position the country as one with a competitive port, befitting for hub status in the West and Central African region.
Webb Fontaine has succeeded in automating the Lagos Free Zone which is first of its kind in the county sitting on 82 hectares of land.
The Lagos Free Zone automation makes the complex stand out amidst 42 other free zones in the country being the first to be so technologically wired for trade.
It is the first free zone in the country to be proximate to the most modern and equipped Lekki Deep-Seaport.
Webb Fontaine’s trade solutions in Nigeria is presently impacting on more than 25 government agencies through automation of their processes and bringing Nigerian business world closer to what obtains in advanced economies where it is providing services, Lonescu said.
“This cargo tracking system, it will function in Apapa, Tin Can port with 2 Inland Container Depots with many objectives, among which is to decongest the port and improve the revenue of the NCS.
“It is also a way of monitoring the containers that are moving between the port and outside, which means we will have eyes on the containers at all times. Therefore, if there is any attempt to tamper with the process, we can immediately flag it and alert the customs officers.
“The NCS will monitor the full process; we are in charge of training the officers that are going to operate and supervise the transit of the goods. They will be in a control room with screens, computers and digital maps, from which they can monitor the movement of each containers.
“By doing this, the port will be decongested, and all stakeholders like the terminal operators, ship owners, freight forwarders and all will be confident that when they move cargo from the port, things will not get lost and they will be safe.
“For now, we are in the pilot stage, and we are bringing in specialists to train officers both inside and outside the port. For Customs, we’re going to do Web Fontaine’s Training the Trainers, so we are not training all the officers who will be in charge of this system; we will train a few, who will then pass on the knowledge
By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
NNPCL Flares 100% Gas Output Earns Zero Revenue In Sept
In spite of the Federal Government’s gas monetisation policy and pledge to the United Nations to attain net zero by 2060, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. flared 100 per cent of their gas output in September and earned no revenue from it during this period.
The NNPCL gas production and utilisation data for September 2022, obtained by The Tide’s source described its subsidiary, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company as one of the worst offenders in gas flaring in September.
The firm and its Joint Venture partners, Seplat Petroleum Development Company and NPDC-Chevron Nigeria, flared 100 per cent of their entire gas output of 106 million standard cubic feet of gas and 7 million standard cubic feet of gas, respectively.
The firm further noted that Newcross Exploration and Production Ltd and Belema Oil flared about 96 per cent and 75 per cent of their 112 million standard cubic feet of gas and 21 million standard cubic feet of gas, respectively.
Also, about 8 billion SCF of gas was flared in September, representing 5 per cent of the total gas output for the month, compared with 10 billion SCF of gas flared in the month, of August, according to the report.
This is coming at a time the country is battling a cash crunch due to a drop in its oil revenue on the back of a significant decline in oil production which dipped to below 1million barrels per day, the lowest in 32 years.
The government has been relying heavily on borrowing to finance its activities, as its debt reached an all-time high of N42.84 trillion in June.
The NNPCL gas production and utilisation data did not state why the firm had flared the whole of its gas production for the month. The firm’s spokesperson, Garba Deen, did not also respond to both phone calls and messages sent to him.
Mobil emerged as the highest gas producer in the month under review with a total output of about 25 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 23 BSCF of gas and flared 1.6 BSCF of gas.
Shell Nigeria followed with a total gas output of about 25 BSCF of gas, utilising 24 BSCF and flaring 0.5 BSCF; Chevron Nigeria produced about 24 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 23 BSCF and flared 0.2 BSCF of gas and Total Energies Nigeria produced about 23 BSCF of gas, out of which it utilised 22 BSCF and flared 0.6 BSCF of gas.
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