Ford announced Thursday that it had earned a record pre-tax profit of $10.8 billion for 2015 — including $2 billion in the fourth quarter — bolstered by pickup sales in the U.S. and strong growth in China.
The record-setting year for the automaker wasn’t much of a surprise — second- and third-quarter results set records along the way — but Ford’s ability to finally turn a profit in Europe may be the most unexpected news. The automaker had lost money in Europe since 2011.
Latin America, notably Brazil, will continue to be a sore spot for Ford and other automakers. Ford said Thursday it expects to lose more money there in 2016 than the $832 million it lost there in 2015.
Ford’s profitability for 2015 finished at 10.2 percent in North America — way up from its 9.5 percent expectation set out by CEO Mark Shields in October. Overall, Ford achieved automotive operating margins of 6.8 percent.
“We promised a breakthrough year in 2015, and we delivered. In 2016, we will continue to build on our strengths and accelerate our pace of progress even further, while transforming Ford into both an auto and a mobility company and creating value for all of our stakeholders,” Shields said in a statement.
So far, investors haven’t rewarded Ford in the market. Shares of the automaker are trading at a 52-week low, and investors remain skittish that the car company can sustain an operating margin of over 10 percent without increasing production and slashing prices to meet volume guidance and sales targets.
For Ford, the good news was that China delivered beyond what many analysts expected. The region’s profits for the automaker soared 29 percent over last year and Ford expects the region to grow to help backfill any potential hiccups in its wheelhouse NAFTA region.