NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Ford Motor Co. drove well past the most optimistic Wall Street forecasts for the first quarter Wednesday, reversing year-earlier losses and saying it is on the path to be well ahead of estimates for the year as well.
Ford reported earnings of $896 million, or 45 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by earnings tracker First Call expected 22 cents in the quarter, with a range of 15 to 30 cents. A year earlier, the company posted an operating loss of $108 million, or 6 cents a share, excluding special items.
Shares of Ford (F: Research, Estimates) gained 35 cents to $8.70 in pre-market trading following the report Wednesday. Shares lost 14 cents to close regular Tuesday trading at $8.35.
The world's No. 2 automaker behind General Motors Corp. said it expects to earn 10 cents a share in the second quarter, which would miss the First Call forecast of 13 cents. But it said it is on track to earn 70 cents a share for all of 2003, which would be well above the First Call consensus forecast of 44 cents. Strong first-quarter results account for most of the upside to the full-year forecast.
The company, whose core auto operations lost money in six of the last eight quarters, returned to the black with pre-tax operating earnings of $659 million, more than $1 billion better than the $370 million loss in that unit a year earlier. The North American unit saw pre-tax profit improve to $1.2 billion from $465 million a year earlier, while overseas operations narrowed their pre-tax loss to $353 million from $469 million.
Ford Credit results also improved, with net income of $442 million, more than double the $186 million of a year earlier. The company's Hertz rental car unit lost $59 million, the same as in the year-earlier period.
Worldwide automotive revenue improved by $2 billion from $32.2 billion. Company-wide revenue rose to $40.9 billion from $39.9 billion a year earlier.