Ford earns $1.63B, but Europe a drag on net income

In this photo taken July 24, 2011, the Ford logo is displayed at an auto dealership in Springfield, Ill. Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, its U.S. sales rose 6 percent in July, boosted by small cars and SUVs. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
AP Photo/Seth Perlman

DEARBORN, Mich. Ford's (F) third-quarter profit eased 1 percent to $1.63 billion as European losses swamped record North American profits.

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its per-share net income was 41 cents, unchanged from the July-September period a year earlier. Before special items, it earned 40 cents, beating Wall Street's forecast of 30 cents, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Ford's revenue fell 3 percent to $32.1 billion as vehicle sales dropped in Europe and South America. The company exceeded Wall Street's revenue forecast of $31.5 billion largely because of North America, where revenue jumped 8 percent to $19.5 billion thanks to higher pricing and strong sales of higher-margin trucks and SUVs.

U.S.-based Ford earned a record $2.3 billion in North America. Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks noted that this was the third quarter in a row that the company has made more than $2 billion in the region and reported an operating margin of 10 percent or more. Ford's North American operating margin was 12 percent in the third quarter, up from 8.6 percent a year earlier.

"To me, the story isn't just the results but the consistency of the results," he said.

The company lost $468 million in Europe, where sales have fallen sharply because of the troubled economy. Last week, Ford announced a plan to close three factories in Europe, where it expects to lose more than $1.5 billion both this year and next year.