DETROIT -- Ford's powerhouse North America region continues to dominate the company's financial results, accounting for $2.3 billion, or 89 percent, of the company's $2.6 billion third-quarter pretax profit.
But what had Ford executives excited last week is that Ford's three other regions -- South America, Asia Pacific and Africa and Europe -- posted a combined profit for the quarter for the first time since the second quarter of 2011.
"That's what everybody's been waiting to see: Can you get the other businesses moving in the right direction?" said Ford CFO Bob Shanks last week. "We've got a lot more work to do, but the progress is exciting."
Most encouraging to Ford is its improving situation in recession-wracked Europe, where it has been bleeding red ink. Ford's third-quarter losses narrowed to $228 million from $468 million last year.
"While we lost money in Europe, it was 51 percent less than last year," Shanks said. Ford is in the midst of a European restructuring modeled on the plan that turned around its Americas business. It's closing two plants in the United Kingdom and one in Belgium. Said Shanks of the European market overall: "We believe we have reached a level of stability. Signs point to very modest growth over the near term."
Ford is also bullish on its rapidly expanding Asia Pacific and Africa region, where it posted record market share and record third quarter pretax profit of $126 million. Ford market share jumped to a record 3.7 percent in Asia Pacific and Africa fueled by a 4.3 percent share in China, where the company has been in the midst of a building binge and new product offensive.
Ford pretax profit in South America soared to $159 million from $9 million last year. Ford market share grew to 9.5 percent in South America.
Buoyed by its gains, Ford last week upgraded its full-year financial guidance. It expects pretax profits to be higher than they were in 2012, revised from the prior prediction they would be flat or exceed last year's $8 billion. Ford expects its full-year loss in Europe to be lower than 2012's $1.7 billion loss; it previously said losses would match 2012 levels.