Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Hills of North Georgia,USA
Ford slips, posts data on the Web
Automaker forced to explain figures showing dismal 2003
By Mark Truby / The Detroit News
DEARBORN -- Ford Motor Co. inadvertently posted private financial information and earnings projections on its Web site for about 10 minutes Tuesday, but it may take time to clear up the ensuing flap.
Several slides containing 2003 profit and market share projections -- including a forecast of wider-than-expected losses in North America -- were attached to materials Ford provided to journalists and analysts for a conference call detailing the automaker's 2002 financial results.
Ford quickly pulled the documents from its Web site but they were widely distributed via e-mail.
Ford CEO Bill Ford and President Nick Scheele were peppered with questions about the slides during the conference call.
Of particular interest was a projection that the company's core North American car and truck business would lose $1.8 billion this year, triple last year's loss.
The documents further forecasted that Ford's profits in Europe and South America would improve to offset North America's losses.
The slides concerned analysts, who were taken aback by the dismal outlook for North America and doubtful Europe and South America could be successful this year.
Early Wednesday, Ford filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission that said the "back-up slides were draft and/or preliminary materials prepared for background and scenario planning, and contained a number of material inaccuracies.
"Accordingly, anyone who obtained these slides ... should disregard them."
Some analysts said the projections appeared to be unrealistic and ignored them while others expressed concern.
Rod Lache of Deutsche Bank titled his report on Ford Wednesday, "Oops ... What Slide?"
"Frankly we believe that these projections only increased the confusion over what, exactly, is happening to Ford's business," Lache wrote.
David Bradley of J.P. Morgan wrote that despite Ford's disavowals, he was "intrigued by information ... that mysteriously appeared on the company Web site."
Ford spokesman Jon Harmon said the company is working with investors to clear up the confusion and remains committed to earning 70 cents a share in 2003.
"It's an unfortunate diversion from the real news," he said. "It's not an accurate projection of the company's outlook."
Amid a wide sell-off in U.S. equities, Ford shares dropped 40 cents to $9.74 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.
Some of the projections Ford inadvertently disclosed earlier this week, and later asked analysts and journalists to disregard:
2003 net loss of $1.84 billion in core North American auto operations
Profits in Europe of $1.45 billion in 2003
Ford brand will capture 17.9 percent of U.S. market in 2003, up 0.4 percentage point from 2002*
Lincoln-Mercury division will grab 2.3 percent of U.S. market in 2003, down 0.1 percentage point from 2002.*
Based on annual sales of 17 million vehicles
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....