On the brink of bankruptcy only one a year ago, Ford has seen an incredible recovery and is expected to report a $1 billion profit for the first quarter tomorrow. This is the largest hint the U.S. auto industry is rebounding more quickly thank expected. The profit announcement follows suite after last week’s announcement of General Motors’ early repayment of $5.8 billion in government aid and Chrysler’s expectation to break even this year.
This time last year Ford was reporting a loss of $1.4 billion in the first quarter, including special charges of $362 million. Surprisingly enough Ford Motors ended the 2009 year with a$2.7 billion profit ending an almost $30 billion dollar loss over the past three years.
“A year ago at this time, we were fearful General Motors would fail and take the whole industry down with it… what a difference a year makes.”
– Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor, told the Free Press on Thursday.
Over the 2008 year the auto industry lost nearly 40,000 jobs. Amid a financial crisis and dwindling economy, reality sunk in for many unemployed workers and empty manufacturing plants. The recovery from where we stood just a year or two years prior is a hard lesson learned for many of the large auto companies. Ford says the auto industry crash and recovery is a cautious reminder of how quickly things can change and how quickly self-satisfaction turns into self-destruction.
Ford released a report this week of their first full-year profit since 2005. Over the past year Ford reports a $2.7 billion profit in 2009 and exceeded economists expectations in the fourth quarter. Ford forecasts another year of profits in 2010, a well needed change from the $30 billion losses between 2006 through 2008. It has been predicted the average hourly employee will receive a profit sharing of $450. The local economy and families should benefit from the extra bonuses workers expect to receive sometime in March.
The profit sharing is a long deserved break by employees. Over the past few years with losses rising forcing Ford further into the red, Ford let go of about half of it’s employees. The hard days are not forgotten and will not be for quite some time. Part of Ford’s reorganization and efforts to scrounge funds still requires the closing of assembly plants in Wayne, Minnesota and Ontario over the next three years. Ford remains up to it’s ears in debt from the borrowed funds to keep from going under. The company will also continue to face the difficulties of a recovering economy, rising gas and commodity prices. Although it seems GM and Chrysler will have more to work on than Ford. Chrysler and GM’s bankruptcy claims have landed them in debt up to their ears owing the government a significant amount of taxpayers money previously used to keep the companies in an operating condition.
Over the next year and some Ford plans on introducing seven new vehicles. These automobiles include the redesigned Edge, Lincoln MKX crossovers, and Mustang GT, and a brand new Ford Explorer SUV. Launching these new vehicles gives Ford hopes of taking a larger share of the auto market from competition. Meanwhile Toyota struggles to maintain their large portion of the auto market as they issue recalls and a freeze on eight vehicle’s production. If Toyota’s troubles continue, Ford will have a fighting chance at stealing part of the foreign auto market share.
Ford has even offered $1,000 to customers who trade in a Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Honda or Acura and purchasing a Ford vehicle. Continuing to push forward with reorganization efforts and cutting costs Ford seems to be taking the lead in the path to recovery.