Ford has reported net income of 94 cents per share, or $US1,952 million, for the first quarter of 2004, compared with 45 cents per share, or $896 million, in the first quarter of 2003.


Ford’s first-quarter earnings from continuing operations excluding special items were 96 cents per share, or $1,983 million, beating the First Call consensus estimate of analysts of 44 cents per share.


Total sales and revenue in the first quarter rose to $44.7 billion from $40.8 billion a year ago.


“This is the best quarter we have achieved since we began our back-to-basics efforts more than two years ago, and it clearly demonstrates our plan is working and building momentum,” said chairman and chief executive officer Bill Ford.


On a pre-tax basis, Ford’s worldwide automotive sector reported a profit of $1,806 million during the first quarter of 2004. Excluding special items of $12 million, worldwide automotive profits in the first quarter were $1,818 million, a $1,156 million improvement over the same period a year ago. The special items included $29 million for restructuring in Ford Europe and a $17 million gain related to a prior divestiture.


Worldwide automotive sales for the first quarter rose more than 13 percent, or $4.6 billion, to $38.8 billion. Worldwide vehicle sales in the quarter were 1,788,000, up from 1,704,000 a year ago.


For the first quarter, the Americas reported a pre-tax profit of $1,977 million, up $772 million from the same period a year ago.


North America automotive pre-tax profit for the first quarter was $1,962 million, up from $1,236 million a year ago. Sales increased to $23.3 billion from $22.2 billion in the same period a year ago.


South America operations reported a first-quarter pre-tax profit of $15 million, a $46 million improvement from the 2003 first quarter. Sales were $650 million, up $320 million from the same period a year ago.


The 2004 first-quarter pre-tax profit for International was $107 million, excluding special items, compared with a loss of $319 million for the year-ago period, a year-over-year improvement of $426 million.


Ford Europe’s first-quarter pre-tax profit was $5 million, excluding special items, compared with a pre-tax loss of $247 million during the 2003 period. Sales in the first quarter were $6.5 billion, compared with $5 billion during the first quarter of 2003.


Premier Automotive Group reported a pre-tax profit of $20 million for the first quarter, compared with a pre-tax loss of $88 million for the first quarter of 2003. First-quarter sales were $6.8 billion, compared with $5.4 billion a year ago.


During the first quarter of 2004, Ford Asia-Pacific reported a pre-tax profit of $28 million, compared with a pre-tax loss of $25 million in the same period a year ago. Sales rose to $1.6 billion, compared with $1.3 billion during the first quarter of 2003.


Ford Motor Credit Company reported net income of $688 million in the first quarter of 2004, up $246 million from earnings of $442 million a year earlier.


Rental car unit Hertz reported a pre-tax loss of $7 million in the first quarter, compared with a $59 million loss during the same period a year ago.


“We are very pleased with our first-quarter results across all our automotive and financial services operations,” said chief financial officer Don Leclair,. “Our efforts to improve our quality and our business structure are continuing to pay off, and our strong pipeline of new products gives us continued confidence that we are on the right track.”


Ford is raising its full-year earnings guidance from a range of $1.20 to $1.30 per share to a range of $1.50 to $1.60 per share from continuing operations, excluding special items, which are presently estimated to reduce earnings by about 7 cents per share.


For the second quarter of 2004, Ford expects to earn 30 to 35 cents per share from continuing operations, excluding special items.