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Ford increases full-year guidance after strong 3Q

By Dee-Ann Durbin

AP Auto Writer

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford proved it in North America. Now it’s proving it in the rest of the world: New vehicles, combined with cost cuts, can turn the business around.

The second-largest U.S. automaker raised its full-year profit guidance Thursday as it reported a strong third quarter that saw improving sales worldwide. Ford’s regions outside North America saw a combined profit for the first time in two years, and every region reported market share increases.

“The breadth, the depth and the quality of the growth is very exciting for us,” Ford’s Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told reporters Thursday morning.

Ford is a major employer in southwest Ohio. The automaker operates a 2,000-employee transmission plant in Sharonville.

Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. earned $1.3 billion, or 31 cents per share, down 14 percent from a year ago. The decline was due to special items, including a $250 million charge for restructuring in Europe and a $145 million charge for a pension buyout program in the U.S.

Without those one-time costs, Ford reported a pretax profit of $2.6 billion, or 45 cents per share. That was a third-quarter record for the company, and a pleasant surprise for Wall Street. Shares rose nearly 2 percent.

Ford, which almost went bankrupt in the middle of the last decade, restored its North American operations to profitability by closing plants, laying off workers, selling non-core brands like Jaguar and using the savings to invest in much improved vehicles like the Fusion sedan and Explorer SUV.

The changes have led to growing sales and stable profits in Ford’s home market. The company earned $2.3 billion in North America in the third quarter, the same amount as in last year’s July-September period. Ford’s share of the market rose, although that was offset by investment in upcoming products.

Ford is now taking its playbook to other markets. In Europe, the company halved its third-quarter loss to $228 million. The company closed two plants in England in July, and expects to spend a total of $800 million this year and $400 million next year on restructuring actions. But it’s also introducing 25 new products by 2017 in an effort to stimulate sales. Among the first are the Fiesta subcompact and B-Max minivan, which were strong sellers in the third quarter.

In China, Ford’s new Kuga and EcoSport SUVs helped increase sales by 51 percent during the quarter, and its profits doubled to $126 million in Asia despite a sales slowdown in India.

Auto Writer Tom Krisher contributed from Detroit.

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