DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co., the only U.S. automaker operating without federal loans, says its cash has dwindled below $15 billion -- less than CEO Alan Mulally indicated in a Thursday interview.
Mulally disclosed the $15 billion figure in an interview on the Fox Business Network from the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mulally later told reporters at the show that he misspoke.
Ford spokesman Mark Truby said today that Ford has not closed the books on the fourth quarter yet. However, our cash position will be lower than $15 billion. It would be premature to say anything more, Truby said.
Mulallys Thursday statement suggested that Ford has slowed the rate at which its burning through its cash reserves. Truby said Fords guidance of a lower burn rate in the fourth quarter versus the third quarter is still valid.
Ford ended the third quarter with $18.9 billion in cash after seeing its supply shrink by $7.7 billion during the period, or about $2.57 billion each month.
Starting 2009 with $15 billion would have indicated that Ford limited the monthly erosion to about $1.3 billion while U.S. auto sales plunged to their lowest levels in a quarter century. Fords clarification today indicates the actual monthly burn rate was between $1.3 billion and $2.57 billion during the fourth quarter.
Were very conscious of cash, Mulally told Fox. And we focus all of our investments, we focus all of our daily operations, were working very closely with our suppliers and our payables, and we are managing that cash -- because cash right now is so important to finance this transformation.
Mulally told Fox that Ford should not need a federal loan if its assumptions for the economy and industry sales in 2009 hold true.
If it degraded significantly, then we would have to consider that help, Mulally said.
In addition to its cash supply, Ford has access to credit lines of $10.7 billion. The company has asked the United States for an additional $9 billion credit line if market conditions deteriorate more than anticipated.
Rivals General Motors and Chrysler LLC each have received $4 billion in U.S. loans, and President Bush has pledged an additional $9.4 billion to GM.