The full-year North American profit of $9.3 billion means Ford will give its 53,000 hourly workers profit-sharing payouts averaging $9,300, which is $500 more than the previous record. Workers received a $1,500 advance on that bonus last fall as an incentive to approve a new labor contract. The payouts for 2014 averaged $6,900.
In Europe, Ford earned $259 million. It was profitable in all of its global regions except South America.
After North America, Ford’s most profitable region was Asia-Pacific, where it earned a record $765 million. More than half of that -- $444 million -- came from the fourth quarter, due to strong growth in China, Shanks said.
The European profit was an $857 million improvement from a year ago. South America, amid Brazil’s worst recession in more than a century, lost $832 million, but that was smaller than the $1.2 billion loss there in 2014. Ford earned $31 million in the Middle East and Africa, where it lost $20 million a year ago.
"This is not just a North America story, we really started to see the international operations come forward," Shanks said.
Ford Motor Credit generated full-year earnings of $2.1 billion, 13 percent more than a year ago.
North American record
North America had a record fourth quarter even after $600 million in costs related to the UAW contract ratified in November.
Shanks said Ford expects its North American margin, which was 10.2 percent in 2015, to be at least 9.5 percent this year. Costs related to the upcoming introduction of redesigned Super Duty pickups and investments in other new products explain the potential for a slight decrease, he said.
Though U.S. sales are likely approaching a peak, after breaking the industry record in 2015, Ford does not anticipate a sharp drop anytime in the next few years, Shanks said. The market likely will remain around current levels “through this year and probably into 2018,” he said.
“Low oil prices, low interest rates and the still-growing housing industry bode very, very well for full-size pickups, which is good for us obviously,” Shanks said. Continued strong U.S. sales will generate “a lot of cash flow that we can continue to invest in the business.”