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Old 10-25-2002, 09:46   #1 (permalink)
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Ford CFO says fundamental business strong

Reuters / October 25, 2002

DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. CFO Allan Gilmour said on Friday that a credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's "does not reflect the fundamental strength of our business."

S&P cut its long-term credit ratings for Ford and its finance arm on Friday to two notches above "junk" status, saying it was concerned about the pace of the No. 2 U.S. automaker's restructuring.

In a statement, Gilmour said the restructuring plan aimed at producing $7 billion in annual pretax profits by mid-decade was on track. He said the company's earnings were running ahead of expectations, and it had sped up cost-cutting efforts.

While S&P said Ford's pension liabilities were a concern, Gilmour said the liabilities were "manageable." Ford said earlier this month that its plans were underfunded by about $6.5 billion at the end of the third quarter, but that it was not expecting any mandatory contributions before 2006.

Ford had $162 billion of debt as of Sept. 30, S&P said.

Many industry analysts had expected the downgrade.
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