After four straight profitable quarters, Alan Mulally’s forecast today of a “solidly profitable” 2010 shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But, as Executive Chairman Bill Ford put it to Ford shareholders at the company’s annual meeting [via AP],
It is the very early days in our recovery. We still have a lot of debt
And he’s not kidding. As of the end of Q1 2010, Ford was carrying $34b in debt. And though Ford faces a higher cost of borrowing because of its staggering debts, Bill Ford was clear that he wouldn’t trade places with Ford’s Detroit competitors, which cleaned out their balance books, at the expense of government bailouts and accompanying PR problems. After all, while GM and Chrysler were rebuilding, Ford managed to outperform both of them last year by gaining sales and market share. And Ford’s leadership sees that momentum carrying forward into next year.
With over 8,000 pre-orders already logged, Reuters reports that Nissan is well on its way to selling out its capacity-constrained, 25,000-unit first-year production run of Leaf EVs. Better yet, Nissan’s North America director of product planning and strategy Mark Perry says that, with those sales volumes, the Leaf will actually turn a profit for Nissan. He tells Reuters:
We are making money at the price that we announced. We priced the car to be affordable. We priced it for mass adoption
The Ford Motor Company released its first quarter earnings today [Full report here, Slide presentation here (both PDF)], revealing that it gained over $2b in net profit on rising revenue and improved operating margins. Sales receipts rose to over $28b, and with each of Ford’s regional units posted operating profits, Ford’s gross automotive cash rose by $400m to $25.3b (although operating cash flow was $100m in the red). North American operations earned $1.2b in pre-tax operating profit, South America earned $203m, Europe recorded $107m and Asia-Pacific-Africa brought in $23m. Ford Credit racked up $828 in pre-tax profits, as lower depreciation levels improved results. Despite these fine results, Ford finished the quarter with $34.3b in automotive debt, a $700m increase from the beginning of the year. Ford paid $492m in interest on that debt in the first quarter. (Read More…)
Building on solid financial results in the fourth quarter of last year, Hyundai has announced today that it turned a net profit of about $1.02b (as in billion) in Q1 2010. That shatters a previous record of $650m, recorded in the second quarter of last year, and eclipses last year’s $203m Q1 net profit. According to the Detroit News, Hyundai raised sales revenue by nearly 40 percent last quarter, with global gross receipts hitting $7.6b. Sales volume was up 36.6 percent, to 842,037 units. Though the Chinese and Indian markets drove growth with 48 and 34 percent volume increases respectively, the big news comes from the US, where Hyundai’s volume grew 78.3 percent and revenue gained 61.5 percent. And if Hyundai’s margins seem surprisingly attractive, consider that the dollar’s recent declines against the Korean Won bled off some of that US-market profit. Oh, and that billion-dollar profit doesn’t include results from Hyundai’s sister-firm Kia, which reports Q1 financials tomorrow. Get down with your bad self, Hyundai!
Don’t ask Chairman/CEO Ed Whitacre. His only comments so far on GM’s Q1 2010 performance comes from a memo leaked to Reuters, in which he says:
In January, I said we could earn a profit in 2010, if everything falls into place. Our first quarter financial results will show us an important milestone, and I’m pleased to say that I anticipate solid operating results when we report our first quarter financials in May
“Important milestones”? “Solid operating results?” What the hell is Whitacre trying to say? (Read More…)
Poor Sergio Marchionne… the man can’t go anywhere without being interrupted. The Fiat/Chrysler CEO’s speech today in the buildup to the New York Auto Show was interrupted twice, once by the the ubiquitous Teamster protesters, and once by a test of the hotel’s fire alarm system. But then, maybe people would let him speak if he had more to offer than the same lukewarm assurances that everything is going marvelously in Chrysler-land. The Detroit News summarizes his speech by saying Marchionne believes Chrysler will sell the 1.1m vehicles in needs to break even this year, and that it will do so without getting pulled into an incentive war.Which would be hard to do anyway, considering Chrysler spends more on incentives at “normal” levels than any of its competitors.
Chinese battery maker and aspiring automaker BYD earned $215m in the fourth quarter of 2009, bringing its net profit for last year to $555.2m, reports Automotive News [sub]. BYD’s performance outstripped analyst estimates, which projected fourth quarter profits of $130.5m, and full-year profits of $473.2m. Though the Chinese auto market grew 46 percent to 1.6m vehicles, 47 percent of BYD’s 2009 sales came from the firm’s cell phone battery business, which is expected to give back recent gains as the global economic crisis takes its toll. Not so with BYD’s auto business: the firm has raised its 2010 car sales projections 14 percent, with sales of 800k foreseen. And as China’s car market takes off, BYD, which has one of the nation’s best-selling cars in its F3 compact, is expected to keep growing. Says one JP Morgan analyst:
BYD is a company that can’t be underestimated. If the Chinese vehicle market expands 10 percent this year BYD’s sales will grow at least 40 percent — 50 or even 60 percent is also a possibility.
Agressive cost-cutting and improved sales yielded $1.68b in net profit for Toyota in the three months ending December 31, reports a press release in the WSJ. Sales revenue climbed 10 percent to $58.2b in the October-December quarter, boosting operating profit to about $2b. This quarter alone though, Toyota reckons the recall could cost the company $2b in repair costs and lost sales. For the fiscal year, ending on March 31, Toyota says the final impact should be limited to about $900m in losses on an operating basis, and has revised its fiscal year net profit projection to about $900m (compared to a $2.2b loss projected in November).
Hyundai’s fourth quarter profit quadrupled over last year’s fourth quarter results, reports Bloomberg, as net income hit $822m, up from $210m in the same period last year. Operating profit rose 44 percent to $722m. This comes despite an increase in the value of the Won, which has reduced profit on Hyundais exports, which make up half the firm’s revenue. And unlike other automotive firms reaping surprise year-end profits (like Ford), Hyundai’s gains come from increased sales rather than cost-cutting. Hyundai’s overall sales rose 14 percent to 3.2 million units last year, driven by growth in the US and Indian markets. Hyundai finished 2009 with just over five percent of the world market. Hyundai expects sales to rise 11 percent in 2010, and the firm is looking to take advantage of Toyota’s weakness by offering conquest incentives like those now offered by GM, Ford and Chrysler.
The Ford Motor Company [full results in PDF format here] earned net income of $2.7b last year, on pre-tax operating profits of $454m. The company enjoyed a strong fourth quarter with $868m in net income and an after-tax operating profit of $1.6b (excluding special items). Ford Motor Credit [full release in PDF format here] earned $1.3b in net income and $2b in pre-tax operating profit last year. Ford Credit’s receivables were down at the end of 2009 compared to 2008, with $93b receivable compared to $116b at the end of 2008, and leverage of 7.3 to 1.
Subtitle two: we don’t believe a word of it. The report comes from an exclusive interview of GM Chairman/CEO Ed Whitacre at the Volt fanboy site gm-volt.com. GM-volt’s Lyle Dennis asked Whitacre if GM would lose money on every Volt it sells, a fact that GM executives have never triedto substantively deny. Until now. Whitacre’s answer:
“We’re not in business to lose money,” he said. “We did enough of that already.”
The Volt “is going to sell in the low 30s,” said Whitacre. “We’ll get a margin on that.”
Oh really? Because it sure seems that GM plans on selling the Volt for $39,500-$45,500, and that the “low 30s” number is dependent on a tax credit. As for Whitacre’s claim that the Volt will make profit, the lack of time-constraints on his prediction is all you need to know. With enough sales and over enough time, almost anything will create profit, especially if the government is distorting the battery market for you. Meanwhile, GM still has to overcome $40k sticker shock (sorry, but you can’t exactly advertise post-tax break prices) and at least a few years of loss on the Volt. But if the gm-volt comments section proves anything, it’s that you can never go wrong misleading the fanboys.
It’s a bit early in the day to be crowning a QOTD, especially considering there are sure to be plenty of juicy quotes coming out of the NAIAS today. Still, this one deserves a special place at TTAC for the sheer bold-faced shamelessness of its untruth.
I think (the government bailout was) well placed, and I think they’ll make a lot of money. GM’s on its way back. We’ll be back. The government’s made a good investment. We appreciate their support. We’re glad they’re here.
So said GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre to reporters from the Detroit News today. As I recently explained in an op-ed in the NY Times, unless GM’s market cap soars to its highest level in history (a pipe dream if ever there was one) the taxpayer losses on the GM “investment” will be in the billions. Even the government estimates losses on the GM and Chrysler bailouts to reach $30b. Whitacre surely meant that a GM IPO will generate some kind of money for the Treasury’s 60 percent stake in GM, but the way it came out makes it sound like the bailout will be a positive investment for the government. That’s an impression that GM desperately needs to foster in order to have a chance at emerging from government control. Too bad it’s just an old-fashioned fib.
While Ford are making some headway in North America, their real Western Hemisphere focus is on the growth market of Brazil. Bloomberg reports that Ford will invest 4 billion Brazilian Reals (that’s $2.3 billion to you lot, I only deal in UK pounds) on Brazilian production capacity. Naturally, Ford aren’t doing this alone, the Brazilian government are offering the usual (as yet undisclosed) state and federal tax breaks to Ford. The investment will add to Fiesta capacity at the Camacari factory and help modernize the Troller plant that builds utility vehicles. Ford’s Q3 pretax profit in South America fell nearly in half to $247 million, as revenue dropped 22 percent to $2.1 billion. Though Ford blames currency issues for the drop, soon-to-expire government incentives have been keeping the Brazilian market afloat. Maybe it’s not “Fiesta” time yet.