DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. posted a decline in first-quarter earnings, strained by losses in Europe and Asia while North American profits rose.
The company reported pre-tax operating profit of $2.3 billion, down $544 million from the first quarter of 2011.
Net income fell to $1.4 billion from $2.6 billion a year earlier. More than half of that decline was attributed to higher tax expenses and special charges. Global revenue fell $700 million to $32.4 billion.
Ford posted an operating loss of $149 million in Europe after a profit of $293 million a year earlier. The company attributed the loss to reduced industry volumes and weaker demand for parts and accessories.
Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said Ford viewed the European loss "as a bit of a victory because we were able to contain it at that level." He said Ford had warned losses could exceed $190 million in Europe in the first quarter.
Ford avoided larger losses in Europe because it "held the line" on prices there, reducing them by only $30 million in the quarter, Shanks said. The industrywide sales rate of 14.1 million in Europe in the first quarter was the lowest since 1995, he said.
Ford said its sales fell 7.3 percent to 325,400 cars and trucks in the top 19 European markets in the quarter.