Ford Motor Co. late Wednesday reported a surprise quarterly profit, saying “strong” demand for its vehicles allowed it to forgo discounting them and that there was “signs of improvement” in chip supplies.
said it earned $600 million, or 14 cents a share, in the second quarter, compared with $1.1 billion, or 28 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted for one-time items, Ford earned 13 cents a share.
Sales rose 38% to $26.8 billion, from $19.4 billion a year ago, with automotive revenue rising 45% to $24.1 billion and about $$1.3 billion above consensus.
Analysts polled by FactSet expected Ford to report an adjusted loss of 3 cents a share on sales of $23 billion. The stock rose nearly 4% in the extended session Wednesday, picking up steam as the conference call progressed.
“Despite the many headwinds from the semiconductor shortage, some of which were unique to Ford, our team skillfully managed our business,” Chief Executive Jim Farley said in a conference call with investors. “I can tell you that this outcome was far from certain at the beginning of the quarter.”
Farley said Ford is seeing “signs of improvement in the flow of chips” in the current quarter, but that the situation remained “fluid,” especially due to an ongoing delay for one of its key suppliers, Renesas Electronics.
The auto maker guided for a better 2021 operating results, pinning that on its “strong” order book and the improving semiconductor supplies.
Ford “has arguably the most positive momentum surrounding its new vehicle portfolio of any auto maker and we are bullish on its operational turnaround” under Farley, who took the reins in October, CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson said.
Headwinds, however, included rising commodity prices, higher warranty costs and about $1.5 billion in costs related to the company’s ongoing pivot to EVs and autonomous-driving systems, as well as new-vehicle launch costs, which Ford said it had expected.
The all-electric version of its iconic F-150 pickup truck has more than 120,000 reservations since its May unveiling, about three-quarters of them from customers who are new to Ford, the company said. The pickup is expected to start selling next year.
“Balancing the need to build and sell models it can produce today with models it needs in the next five years is a challenge every global auto maker is facing. The latest numbers suggest Ford is meeting this challenge,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst with iSeeCars.com.
Ford also said it was focusing on a transition to a build-to-order, “order bank” structure, rather than keeping higher inventories on dealer lots. Benefits of relying more on reservations include reducing dealer costs as well as promotions, the company said.
When asked what that would mean for its thousands of dealers scattered through the U.S., Ford executives said that their message for the network is that they’d have to “work carefully together,” since the dealers are a connection between Ford and customers, and people also rely on the dealership network for services.
With the chip shortage worsening in April, Ford warned investors its production would take a 50% hit, which would have resulted in a quarterly loss.
“In fact, Ford did better than expected, leveraging strong demand to optimize revenue and profits through lower incentives and a favorable mix of vehicles, which generated companywide adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of $1.1 billion,” the auto maker said.
In May, Ford announced plans to invest in and offer more electric vehicles in the coming years, earning Wall Street praise for having a “coherent strategy” to remain competitive amid the broader industry shift away from gas-powered vehicles.
The stock has gained about 56% this year, compared with gains of around 17% for the S&P 500 index