DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. posted a first-quarter net loss of $3.1 billion attributable to a drop in the value of its Rivian stake but affirmed guidance for the year despite continued production limitations.
Ford was profitable before accounting for the Rivian investment, though adjusted earnings fell 41 percent from a year earlier to $2.3 billion before interest and taxes. Its adjusted profit margin was 6.7 percent, down 4.1 percentage points.
Revenue during the latest quarter fell 5 percent to $34.5 billion, the company reported Wednesday. The value of Ford's Rivian shares fell by more than half to $5.1 billion during the quarter. The EV startup's stock tanked from about $102 per share at the beginning of the year to about $50 on March 31 – and has fallen even further in April to around $30.
Executives on Wednesday declined to comment on Ford’s plans for the Rivian holding, although CEO Jim Farley told Automotive News late last year that Ford “loved its future as a company.” Ford can not sell any of its roughly 12 percent stake in the EV startup until a lock-up period for pre-IPO investors ends next month.
Ford said the industry's ongoing microchip shortage hampered company production in January and February but that March output was higher. Its wholesale shipments fell 9 percent in the quarter to about 970,000.
“The capability of this business is much stronger than what we were able to provide in the quarter,” CFO John Lawler told reporters.
Ford has about 53,000 vehicles sitting around waiting for chips or related components, and most of those are its largest, most profitable vehicle lines such as the F-Series or Explorer, Lawler said.
Second half 'critical'
Ford earned $1.59 billion in the latest quarter in North America, down from the $2.9 billion posted a year ago. It made $50 million in South America, $207 million in Europe, and $96 million in its International Markets Group. It lost $53 million in China.
Aside from a quarterly improvement in South America, Ford performed worse in each of its other business units compared to the same period a year ago.
The automaker reaffirmed its full-year guidance of $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion in adjusted EBIT, which would mark a 15 to 25 percent rise from 2021. Ford expects production volumes to increase between 10 and 15 percent over 2021 levels.
Ford executives said they’re optimistic that volumes will continue to increase in the back half of the year. They maintained guidance in large part due to the continued demand for Ford’s vehicles.
Lawler said Ford had about 400,000 vehicles in its order bank at the end of March, and that number represents about $17 billion in revenue.
The company is riding momentum from the formal manufacturing launch of the F-150 Lightning EV this week. Farley said Ford has already built about 2,000 Lightnings and that the first models will be headed to commercial customers within days.
“The second half is very critical for us,” Farley said. “We have the opportunity to build at volumes we haven’t had for awhile and we have a lot of great, fresh products, a lot of costs coming into the business, but the second half is really critical for the company.”
Ford shares rose 2.5 percent to $15.20 in aftermarket trading Wednesday.
Rivian shares edged up 1.7 percent to close Wednesday at $31.22.