Ford Motor Company announced today a profit of $2.1 billion for the first quarter of 2013, down $147 million year-over-year, while net income of $1.6 billion represents a $215 million gain. That's Ford's 15th consecutive quarter of profitability.
The positive results were driven by continuing strong sales in North America and the Asia Pacific Africa divisions. In North America, pre-tax profits of $2.44 billion represent Ford's best quarterly result for at least 13 years. (Prior to 2000, Ford did not separate quarterly results by region, so it's unclear whether better results were reported previously.) Ford says sales volume in North America is up 17 percent year-over-year, and that the region has an operating margin of 11 percent. Going forward, Ford expects to finish the year with profits above 2012 levels and a margin of about 10 percent.
In the Asia Pacific Africa region, Ford expects to break even. Its market share there rose 30 percent to about three percent; market share in China reached a new record of 3.6 percent.
Ford continues to see sales tumble in Europe and in South America. In Europe, declining car sales meant the automaker posted a first-quarter loss of $462 million. Ford also cites restructuring costs, and the cost of paying employee pensions, as dragging down the company's numbers in Europe. Although Ford claims it has increased its market share in Western Europe, the company plans to lose $2 billion in Europe this year.
In South America, currency fluctuations in Argentina and Venezuela significantly hurt the company's bottom line, leading to a first-quarter loss of $218 million. Overall this year, Ford expects to break even in South America -- but cautions that further currency instability could cause worse results.
"We continue to expect 2013 to be another strong year," Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement. "Everyone at Ford remains laser focused on continuing to make progress on our One Ford plan and building a profitably growing Ford."