DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s restructuring is on track, including a pledge to slice an average $700 per unit from U.S. vehicle costs by mid-decade, the automaker assured Wall Street last week.
In the meantime, Ford Motor reported its fourth consecutive quarterly loss on Wednesday, April 17.
The $800 million first-quarter net loss included a one-time charge of $708 million and a one-time gain of $16 million. Both items relate to changes in accounting methods. In the first quarter of 2001, Ford's net income was $1.06 billion, including a $72 million one-time charge because of a change in accounting methods.
Ford beat consensus estimates by 9 cents a share in the first quarter of 2002. Wall Street's consensus estimate anticipated a per-share loss of 15 cents.
Excluding one-time charges, Ford's North American operations reported a $430 million loss in the period, compared with a profit of $754 million a year earlier.
Ford Motor, which lost $5.45 billion in 2001, is in the midst of a turnaround plan to pare costs, raise vehicle quality and bring models to market faster by mid-decade.
Marketing costs and shrinking North American volume hit the company hard in the first quarter, the automaker said.
U.S. marketing costs as a percentage of revenue rose 3.5 percentage points. In the first quarter of 2002, Ford's marketing costs totaled 15.7 percent of U.S. total sales of $21.2 billion. In the same period last year, Ford spent 12.2 percent of sales on marketing costs.
"I am not looking for incentives to go up in the second quarter," said Ford COO Nick Scheele.
Scheele said that lower sales to commercial fleets, the model changeover of the Ford Expedition and insufficient vehicle stock at the start of 2002 undermined Ford volume in the United States during the quarter.