On a pre-tax basis, excluding special items of $64 million, Ford's worldwide automotive losses in the third quarter were $US609 million, a deterioration of $61 million from the same period a year ago.

The special items included a $23 million charge for restructuring at Jaguar, and $41 million in North America related to the revaluation of Ford's investment in fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power Systems.

Worldwide automotive sales for the third quarter rose to $32.8 billion from $30.2 billion in the same period last year. Worldwide vehicle-unit sales in the quarter were 1,508,000, up from 1,423,000 a year ago.

For the third quarter, the Americas reported a pre-tax loss of $422 million, excluding special items, down $288 million from the $134 million loss in the same period a year ago.

North America automotive operations reported a loss of $481 million, excluding special items, down $373 million from a year ago. The decrease primarily reflected unfavourable currency exchange rates and lower production volumes. Sales were $18.1 billion, up from $17.9 billion in the same period a year ago.

However, South America operations reported a third-quarter pre-tax profit of $59 million, an $85 million improvement from the 2003 third quarter. The improvement primarily reflected higher volume and pricing, partially offset by higher material costs. Sales improved to $784 million from $489 million in the same period a year ago.

The 2004 third-quarter combined pre-tax loss for Ford Europe and PAG was $204 million, excluding special items, compared with a loss of $424 million for the year-ago period, a year-over-year improvement of $220 million.

Ford Europe's third quarter pre-tax loss was $33 million, compared with a pre-tax loss of $400 million, excluding special items, during the 2003 period. The improvement of $367 million primarily reflected higher sales volume and improved cost performance. Sales in the third quarter increased to $5.9 billion, compared with $4.6 billion during the third quarter of 2003.

Premier Automotive Group reported a pre-tax loss of $171 million for the third quarter, excluding special items, compared with a pre-tax loss of $24 million for the third quarter of 2003. The decline in results primarily reflected vehicle launch costs, particularly at Land Rover, and unfavourable currency exchange rates. Third-quarter sales for PAG were $6.1 billion, compared with $5.6 billion a year ago.

The 2004 third-quarter combined pre-tax profit for Ford Asia-Pacific/Africa and Mazda was $48 million, compared with $8 million for the year-ago period, a year-over-year improvement of $40 million.

Ford Asia-Pacific/Africa reported a pre-tax profit of $35 million, an improvement of $32 million from the same period a year ago. The improvement primarily reflected favourable currency exchange rates. Sales rose to $1.9 billion, compared with $1.6 billion during the third quarter of 2003.

Ford's Q3 share of the pre-tax profit of Mazda and associated operations was $13 million, compared with $5 million a year ago.

Ford Motor Credit Company reported net income of $734 million in the third quarter of 2004, up $230 million from $504 million a year earlier. On a pre-tax basis from continuing operations, Ford Credit earned $1.2 billion in the third quarter, compared with $808 million in the previous year. The increase in earnings primarily reflected improved credit loss performance and leasing results.

"Overall, we had a good third quarter," said Don Leclair, Ford's group vice president and chief financial officer.

"We are on track to deliver this year's milestone of $1 billion in automotive pre-tax profits, excluding special items. Our results show continued strong performance in financial services and continuing improvement in North American revenue, even though the market remains difficult. New products in the fourth quarter should improve our US market share, and we're making good progress in Europe. In addition, South America, Asia-Pacific/Africa, and Mazda were all profitable."

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