Ford Motor (F) said on Thursday fourth-quarter results beat Wall Street expectations, and it reiterated a forecast that 2016 pretax profit would be equal to or higher than last year.
Excluding one-time items, Ford earned 58 cents a share in the fourth quarter, vs. Wall Street expectations of 51 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Ford shares were up about 3% in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The automaker earned most of its money in the quarter and for the full year in North America, where falling gasoline prices have spurred demand for profitable large pickups, including the Ford F-150 and Super Duty models. However, Ford cautioned again Thursday that profit margins in its North American business in 2016 may not equal the 10.2% level achieved in 2015.
Ford improved profits in Asia and in Europe, where the automaker Ford turned a full-year profit for the first time since 2011. However, a $295 million quarterly loss in Latin America more than offset the $131 million fourth-quarter profit from European operations. Ford CFO Bob Shanks said Thursday Brazil’s economy will continue to contract.
Despite record profits for 2015, Ford shares have slumped more than 15% since Jan. 1 through the close of trade on Wednesday as analysts and investors have begun factoring in fears that the U.S. and Chinese auto markets are headed for slower growth, or possibly contraction, over the next several years following a long boom.
Ford disappointed investors earlier this month with a 2016 profit outlook that called for pre-tax profits excluding special items to be “equal to or greater than” the $10.8 billion reported for 2015. Analysts had expected pre-tax profit of $11 billion for 2016, on average.
Ford said earlier this month it will pay a special dividend of $1 billion.