Ford's shares slide on lower year-end guidance, weak demand in China

  • The third-quarter was expected to be Ford's weakest of the year.
  • The quarterly earnings are the first since Moody's Investors Service downgraded Ford's credit rating to junk status in September.
  • Ford is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan under CEO Jim Hackett through 2022.  

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor delivered a big earnings beat for the third quarter but lowered investor expectations for the rest of the year as the automaker grapples with falling consumer demand, primarily in China.

Here's what Wall Street expected, according to Refinitiv consensus estimates:

  • Adjusted earnings: 34 cents per share vs. 26 cents expected.
  • Automotive revenue: $33.93 billion vs. $33.98 billion expected.

The automaker said it expects to make less profit than previously expected for the year, lowering its 2019 earnings guidance to between $6.5 billion to $7 billion, or between $1.20 and $1.32 per share. It previously said it would earn between $7 billion to $7.5 billion, or between $1.20 and $1.35 per share.

The company's shares slid by more than 3% in after-market trading.

The change in guidance was attributed to higher than expected warranty costs and incentive spending as well as weakening sales in China, according to the company.

"From a key takeaway standpoint, we think Q3 was a good quarter," Ford CFO Tim Stone told reporters during an earnings briefing. "The progress we've made also indicates we have more work to do, more opportunity ahead but it's a good start for the year."

On an unadjusted basis, Ford's net income fell 57% compared to a year ago to $425 million, or 11 cents per share, due to $1.5 billion in special items that included $800 million for its previously-announced restructuring in India as part of a global turnaround plan led by Ford CEO Jim Hackett.

The third-quarter was expected to be Ford's worst of the year as part of a weaker second half compared to 2018. The automaker strongly beat Wall Street expectations in the first three months of the year before missing them during a noisy second quarter.

Hackett announced a massive $11 billion restructuring plan last year, boldly deciding to phase out all sedans — except for its iconic Mustang — to refocus the company on its popular trucks and SUVs. The plan also frees up capital to ramp up its electric and autonomous vehicle programs. As part of the restructuring, Ford slashed about 10% of its white collar workforce, about 7,000 employees, earlier this year.

Investors have been patiently waiting to see the results. Ford's shares hit an almost decade-long low in December, closing at $7.63 a share on Christmas Eve, and are still trading under $10 a share, according to data compiled by FactSet.

The third-quarter report is the first since Moody's Investors Service downgraded Ford's credit rating to junk status in September.

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