For the full year, Ford's 2017 pretax profits fell 19 percent to $8.4 billion, explained by rising commodity costs, higher recall costs and losses in its mobility division. Net income soared 65 percent to $7.6 billion, as revenue rose 3.3 percent to $156.8 billion. But that largely reflects accounting changes Ford made in 2016, including a lower tax rate and re-measurement of pension liabilities, which hurt its earnings that year but made the 2017 comparisons favorable.
Ford's 2017 operating margin was 5 percent, down 1.7 percentage points year-over-year and far from the 8 percent returns the company wants. The result also lags its crosstown rivals.FCA posted a 6.4 percent margin in 2017, and while GM has yet to report full-year earnings, it posted a 7.5 percent margin in the third quarter.
"I and my team are not satisfied with this level of performance," Hackett said. "We see 2018 as the opportunity to prove to you that we can sharpen operational execution."
Still, Hackett has said 2018 will be a "bad year."
Its per-share guidance for 2018 translates to earnings of $8 billion to $9.2 billion, according to investment firm Barclays Capital, down from an initial forecast of $9.9 billion.
Ford's stock tumbled nearly 4 percent the day after the earnings report.
"That's a report card on fitness," Shanks said. "Frankly, the fitter we are the more options we have to succeed in the future because we'll have more cash, more flexibility, and we'll be better protected against potential mistakes along the way or changes in the external environment."