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World :Ford promises more cuts to come

BBC

The head of car company Ford shrugged off analysts' mutterings about its debt burden and viability on Monday, as he told investors the company was on track to keep its promised shake-up on track.

In a speech to 1,500 shareholders, Bill Ford Jr - the fourth member of the Ford family to hold the top job - said the company had chopped $2bn (1.2bn) out of its costs in 2002, and was already $500m ahead of its targets for this year.

Ford is marking its 100th anniversary this week, in what Mr Ford acknowledged was a fiercely competitive environment.

Recent consumer spending figures have suggested that the boom in car purchases of the past few years is slackening, and analysts warn that the financing incentives which have kept the market going are costing carmakers dearly.

High costs, especially for pensions, are also a concern among some, and one - Saul Rubin at UBS Warburg - has even suggested that at least one of Ford and its main competitors, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler, could go bust by 2010.

Ahead of the curve?

Mr Ford dismissed these warnings as "hysterical", despite the analysts' fears that as workforce numbers fall the burden on the remainder to support the pension costs might grow insupportable.

"We can survive no matter what the balance sheet throws at us," he said.

Further cost-cutting and changes in production methods under way as part of a revival plan announced in January 2002 would make sure that it brought out new vehicles faster than before, he said.

Most of all, Mr Ford and his chief financial officer, Allan Gilmour, were keen to point to the performance in the first three months of this year as evidence.

After two years in which the company lost $6.4bn, the three months to the end of March showed a profit of $896m, twice as much as analysts had forecast.


Stacy94PGT
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.....
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