(USA TODAY) - Ford Motor says it made the highest fourth-quarter pre-tax profit in more than a decade. It earned $1.7 billion last quarter, due largely to increased sales of trucks and SUVs and higher prices for all models.
That was 31 cents a share, beating Wall Street forecasts which had ranged from 25 to 28 cents. Ford (F) shares jumped more than 2.7% moments after the earnings reports was released in pre-market trading. But they quickly reversed course and were more than 1.4% lower within an hour of the profit report.
Ford has taken aggressive restructuring actions in money-losing Europe, saying it will close three plants by 2014, and now says this year might be when it hits bottom in Europe, rather than next year, as it previously forecast.
For all of 2012, the automaker's net income was $5.7 billion, down $307 million than a year ago. It excludes some special charges.
Revenue last quarter was $36.5 billion, up $1.9 billion from the same period a year ago. For 2012, revenue was $134.3 billion, down $2 billion from a year ago.
Ford on Jan. 10 announced it was doubling the quarterly dividend, to da dime. And it said Tuesday it will make profit-sharing payments to about 45,800 U.S. hourly workers on Mar. 14 as part of it's contract with the United Auto Workers. The payments will average $8,300 for workers on the job all year, but the amounts will vary depending on hours.
Trucks, mainly sold in North American, drove profits hard enough to overcome European losses -- which were substantial, and more than Ford had forecast.
In the quarter, Ford reported European losses of 732 Million, against a loss of $190 million the previous year. For all of 2012 Ford's European loss climbed to $1.73 billion. The automaker had forecast about $1.5 billion when it discussed third-quarter earnings three months ago.
"We think we can be profitable, with the restructuring actions that we've taken and all the new products that we're introducing, by mid-decade," CEO Alan Mulally predicted at Automotive News World Congress in Detroit earlier this month.
In North America, Ford said it made $1.87 billion in the quarter -- twice as much as the $889 million on it posted a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter was $22.1 billion, up $2.5 billion.
For the year, North American profit was $8.34 billion, before taxes..
Ford showed a preview of the 2015 F-150 at the Detroit auto show earlier this month, hoping to tempt prospective buyers into waiting instead of buying General Motors new Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra, on sale first half this year.
Ford also wanted to raise doubts in shoppers' minds about spending now for Chrysler Group's Ram pickup, revised for 2013 and winner of the North American Truck of the Year earlier this month, an award bestowed by 49 U.S. and Canadian auto journalists.
Ford had reported a loss of $468 million in Europe last quarter and warned that losses were mounting. The automaker has announced plans to close three European plants by 2014, but said last quarter that it would lose $1.5 billion in 2012 and again this year, and doesn't expect black ink from European operations until about 2015.