DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford Motor Co. enjoyed one of the best years in its history in 2013, but the celebration won’t last long.
The Dearborn-based automaker posted a pretax profit of $8.56 billion – the second-highest in the past decade – and worldwide sales were up 12 percent to 6.3 million cars and trucks. That was a faster pace than Toyota, the industry leader, whose sales rose 2 percent.
But Ford has already warned of leaner results this year as it launches a record 23 vehicles and builds seven plants around the world. It’s anticipating 13 weeks of expensive down time – up from five in 2013 – at its two U.S. pickup truck plants to prepare for the launch of a new aluminum-clad F-150. And instability in South America and price competition in the U.S. are constant threats.
Ford expects pretax profit of between $7 billion and $8 billion, and says its operating margin and cash flow will also fall because of the vehicle-introduction costs.
Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said capital expenditures will total $7.5 billion this year and in the next two to three years, up from $6.6 billion in 2013 and more than twice what it spent four years ago.
Ford’s fourth-quarter net income totaled $3 billion, or 74 cents per share. Excluding a big tax gain, net income was 31 cents per share, 4 cents better than analyst estimates, according to FactSet.
In North America, Ford posted a record pretax profit of $8.8 billion, thanks to big demand for pickup trucks as the economy improved. Ford sales in the U.S. rose 11.7 percent, the only automaker with a double-digit gain. Profit-sharing payments to Ford’s 47,000 U.S. hourly workers will be about $8,800, a record.