DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. (F) on Monday posted a higher-than-expected 19 percent increase in earnings, boosted by strength in its finance arm and the sale of its Hertz Corp. rental car unit, even as its core automotive division lost money.
Ford, facing a deepening financial crisis in North America, said fourth-quarter net income was $124 million, or 8 cents a share, compared with $104 million, or 6 cents a share, a year ago.
Excluding special items, the company earned 26 cents a share, soundly beating the average analyst expectation of 1 cent a share.
Its auto operations posted a loss of $12 million before taxes and excluding special charges, while its finance arm contributed a net profit of $465 million. In North America, Ford lost $143 million during the quarter, before taxes and excluding special items.
Ford has been struggling with a loss in U.S. market share to foreign rivals, stalled sales of its large sport utility vehicles due to high gasoline prices and high commodity and health-care costs.
The automaker is set to announce details of its restructuring plan, including plant closings and layoffs, later on Monday.
Ford reported a pretax gain of $1.08 billion in the fourth quarter on the sale of Hertz, which was completed in December. The automaker sold the unit to an investor group in a transaction valued at about $15 billion, including the assumption of debt.
Ford's fourth-quarter net earnings were also reduced by 12 cents per share because of an accounting change related to its fixed-asset retirement.
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford said fourth-quarter revenue rose to $47.56 billion from $44.92 billion a year earlier.