Uber Finally Makes a Profit, But Not Really

On Thursday, Uber Technologies reported its first profitable quarter since the company launched in San Francisco way back in 2009. This represents a huge achievement for the company, which has been investing heavily to expand the business in the hopes that it will eventually become the world’s favored ride-hailing, courier, and food-delivery service.

But here’s the rub. Uber is technically only profitable on an adjusted basis that takes a pretty narrow view of its finances. Despite this, it’s still a step in the right direction and may foreshadow the reliable earnings the company has been seeking for ages.

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Renault Reports Staggering $8.6 Billion Loss

Already in the midst of a comprehensive restructuring plan with partners Nissan and Mitsubishi, Renault announced a staggering 7.29 billion euro ($8.6 billion) loss on Thursday. That tally encapsulates the first half of the year and marks a new record for the brand, even if it’s not the kind one normally celebrates.

“Although the situation is unprecedented, it is not final. Together with all of the Group’s management teams and employees, we are fully dedicated to correcting the situation through a strict discipline that will go beyond reducing our fixed costs,” new CEO Luca de Meo said in response to the dismal financial report. “Preparing for the future also means building our development strategy, and we are actively working on this. I have every confidence in the Group’s ability to recover.”

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Nissan's Bad Year Greenlit for a Sequel

Nissan is bracing for a bad year. On Tuesday, the automaker held a press conference at its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, to tell the world that it’s forecasting a 28-percent decline in operating profit this year. While that sounds bad, it comes on the heels of the company’s financial results for the 12-month period ending March 31st, 2019 — which was a dumpster fire.

Operating profit plunged 45 percent to 318 billion yen ($2.9 billion), while revenue fell 3 percent to about 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion). Vehicle sales were down 4.4 percent. “Today we have hit rock bottom,” CEO Hiroto Saikawa told the press, suggesting the company could rebound in a few years.

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Subaru Struggles: Annual Profit Effectively Halved Due to Quality Control Issues

Subaru may be getting too big for its britches. Despite seeming like it was positioned for nearly incalculable growth at the start of last year, the automaker’s latest financial report showed the period was actually plagued with problems. Over the full fiscal year, which ends on March 31st for Subaru, the company basically showed that its operating profit had been cut in half.

How could this have happened? Subaru’s commitment to all-wheel drive has given its sales a shot in the arm as the crossover craze has escalated and it has one of the best reputations in the business. Seriously, ask any automotive layperson what they think of the brand and they will almost always have something positive to say. However, for all of its presumed advantages, the company is reporting a 48.5-percent decline in operating profit (to 195.5 billion yen) and a 6.3-precent loss of global sales volume.

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Ford's Earnings Show That Saving Money Can Be Expensive

Automakers find themselves a bit of a pickle right now. The shift towards “mobility” has resulted in high development costs for electric and autonomous vehicles in the midst of stagnating sales growth. There’s also a trade war hurting global demand and impacting supply chains. Ultimately, this resulted in a lackluster Q1 for many manufacturers.

Ford’s situation was symbolic of the industry’s general plight, per its 34-percent decline in net revenue for the first quarter of 2019, but it wasn’t without a warm ray of hope. The company posted a 12-percent increase in earnings (before before interest and taxes) over the same period due to North America’s consistent desire to own SUVs, crossovers, and pickups. Ford’s share price also improved, hitting the $10 mark for the first time since August of 2018 on Friday.

With all that good news, many probably wonder what caused net revenue to climb into the toilet like an overly curious ferret. As it turns out, saving money can be pretty expensive.

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USA to the Rescue? Jaguar Land Rover Banks on American Excess During Troubled Times

Jaguar Land Rover finds itself in a truly unfortunate situation. Like many manufacturers, it mistakenly presumed China would be a continual source of sales growth. But JLR also has to contend with the uncertainty of Brexit and tightening emission rules across Europe. The one-two-three punch helped contribute to the $4.4-billion loss the company posted in its latest quarterly earnings report. Having also lost cash in the previous two quarters, the automaker says it will probably need to reduce its 42,500-person workforce by around 10 percent this year.

While there isn’t much to be done about the economic uncertainties surrounding Brexit, which now seems to be perpetually stalled, China really should have been better to JLR. Unlike their mainstream counterparts, luxury vehicles have fared much better in the Asian market. Unfortunately, it was not to be for Jaguar Land Rover; the company is now looking at North America the way an injured tightrope walker might view a safety net.

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Asia Picks Up North American Slack as Honda Posts Profit Increase

Exchange rates seriously hurt Japanese manufacturers over the past year as the yen bobbed and weaved following 2015’s surge. However, Honda was not among them. The final quarter of 2016 saw the automaker posting a 27 percent earnings increase, despite being hammered by the same foreign exchange losses as the rest of its Pacific brethren.

The first quarter of 2017 appears to have shaped up much the same way, only with slimmer margins — exactly as Honda predicted. Knowing that the North American market was about to take a turn for the worse, company analysts clung to the hope that more favorable currency rates and higher-than-expected sales in Asia would keep operating profits out of the red. Earnings ultimately creeping ahead by 0.9 percent to 269.21 billion yen ($2.40 billion) for Q1 — no thanks to the United States.

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Ford Board to Grill Fields on Mobility Strategy After a Sucky First Quarter

The board of directors at Ford Motor Company will be seeking answers from CEO Mark Fields on how the brand’s mobility strategy played a role in its lackluster annual earnings report. Inside sources claim board members made extra time leading up to Thursday’s annual shareholders meeting to discuss the company’s future with the CEO.

Fields has promoted Ford’s evolution into a mobility company ever since taking the helm in 2014 — something investors haven’t been particularly receptive of. During Fields’ tenure as CEO, shares in the company have fallen by 35 percent. However, with tech-focused companies typically receiving above-average valuations, the methodology behind his strategy appears sound. Ford has spent billions on the development of autonomous technology and showcased mobility concepts that even Tesla hasn’t bothered with.

While many seem too impractical or far-fetched to deserve serious attention, the capital behind its self-driving efforts have kept Ford near the front of the pack in the autonomous race. So, what’s the problem?

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  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.
  • ToolGuy Those of you who aren't listening to the TTAC Podcast, you really don't know what you are missing.