Ford shares soar on raised earnings outlook and restored dividend

Ford shares soar on raised earnings outlook and restored dividend
Jeffrey Scott Dean/Bloomberg/Getty Images

As with most automakers, Ford’s earnings took a hit from the supply chain problems and computer chip shortage. But its third quarter results were much better than Wall Street expected. The company also raised its outlook for future earnings and restored its dividend.

Ford raised its full-year operating earnings guidance to between $10.5 billion to $11.5 billion, up from the range of $9 billion to $10 billion it gave three months ago. The company also announced it will pay a dividend of 10 cents a share.

That’s notable as Ford had suspended its dividend, then 15 cents a share, during the earliest days of the pandemic in March 2020 as it sought to preserve cash in the face of then plunging car sales.

Shares of Ford, which closed down 3% in regular trading Wednesday ahead of the after-hours report, jumped 10% in trading early Thursday. That took shares to a seven-year high.

“Our operations outside of North America are likely to post their best performance in four years,” said CEO Jim Farley. “We’ve been able to achieve this while thoughtfully managing our supply chain for short-term sustainable improvements.”

“I believe we have the right plan to drive growth and unlock unprecedented value. You are already seeing a favorable change in the slope of our earnings and cash flow. There is more to come,” he added.”

The company posted adjusted earnings of $2 billion, down 22% from a year earlier and less than the adjusted earnings from Tesla, which despite its soaring stock value has only a fraction of the sales of any major automaker.

Ford’s automotive revenue of $33.2 billion fell 4% from a year ago (although it was nearly triple that of Tesla). But both the revenue and earnings were much better than analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had expected. They had been forecasting Ford would earn less than $1 billion on automotive revenue of $32.5 billion.

The company said that while the availability of computer chips remains a challenge, the situation was “markedly improved” from the second quarter, propelling a 32% rise in Ford’s shipments to dealers compared to the April through June period, and 33% gain in revenue on that basis.

The company said its company wide profit margin reached 8.4% in the quarter, including 10.1% in North America.

Supply chain problems have hit the auto industry hard for months, limiting production by causing temporary plant closings. Overall, US car sales were down about 13% in the quarter, according to Cox Automotive.

Ford’s results were similar to what was reported at rival General Motors earlier in the day — earnings and revenue fell from a year earlier but were better than forecast.

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