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Old 11-14-2006, 13:15   #1 (permalink)
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US:CFO: Ford will make small N.A. profit in '09

CFO: Ford will make small N.A. profit in '09

Amy Wilson | Automotive News

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s North American automotive operations will swing back to a profit in 2009, CFO Don Leclair reiterated today, but it will be a small one.

Leclair wouldn't specify the amount of profit expected in the North American business in 2009. But a chart presented in a Ford conference call today suggests the unit's pretax income will be quite modest.

One analyst questioning Leclair on the call described the bar representing 2009 results as just a "thin sliver of profits."

In a report written before the conference call, another analyst, Peter Nesvold of Bear Stearns, estimated the 2009 profit represented on the chart at around $250 million. By contrast, Ford's North American business reported a loss of $3.3 billion before taxes and special charges through the first nine months of 2006.

Leclair took pains to emphasize that Ford's North American profit recovery is a work in progress.

"We're trying to reflect our views of the uncertainties in the marketplace, so we're not going to be committing to a large profit level now," Leclair said of the 2009 projection. "We do recognize there are uncertainties on all fronts. We have put together plans we feel good about that will achieve profitability with an overall economic environment that's around 17 million light and heavy (vehicle) sales."

Cost-cutting to help drive the profit recovery will continue in 2009 and beyond.

"We're not stopping our cost reductions in 2008; we're not stopping our cost reductions in 2009," Leclair said. He was trying to clarify concerns that some outsiders have had about how the North American unit will reach profitability in 2009.

Ford says it will reduce its operating costs by $5 billion by the end of 2008. Leclair wouldn't estimate the amount of cost reductions expected for the balance of the decade.

Leclair was speaking on a conference call to explain restated financial statements filed by Ford today.
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