Founded in 1903 by Henry Ford, the Ford Motor Company revolutionized the industry many times over. As part of the “Big Three” US automakers, it is perhaps one of the most recognizable car brands in the world and serves as a symbol of American ingenuity. While there have been company lows–the Edsel immediately comes to mind–overall Ford has performed pretty well through the 20th century and into the 21st.
That reliability shows signs of slipping, as the last quarter results come in for 2018. The company published its fourth quarter and 2018 full release on Wednesday, January 23rd. Leading up to posting, Ford Company’s stock dipped. Prior to the announcement, Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds’ manager of industry analysis remarked, “2018 was a bit of a rebuilding year for Ford. The company was plagued by aging product during a year where it seemed like every other automaker was coming out with flashy new trucks and SUVs.”
In a year when other companies have been doing well, Ford Company showed a net loss of $116 million in the fourth quarter, translating to three cents a share. A large portion of the downturn was driven by overseas markets. Although in North America Ford showed signs of growth, reaching a revenue by $1.7 billion, the company’s earnings fell globally, most notably in South America where the market share slumped everywhere but Peru.
Advancing onward, it is still unclear what the new year might bring for Ford. “The future looks brighter for Ford in 2019,” says Acevedo, “as the new Ranger and Explorer will likely generate needed excitement and sales.” That said, Acevedo cautions, “The fact that Ford’s bread and butter F-150 is showing its age while key competitors are freshly redesigned could give the company some heartburn in the new year.”
Added to that danger, proposed US tariffs on steel and other products could put a dent in the company’s revenue, as could change in trade brought on by the looming Brexit. Finally, the company has begun an extensive restructuring of operations, including ridding themselves of currently unpopular sedans and allying itself with Volkswagen to produce midsized vans and trucks and refocusing its overseas markets, all of which could make a strong impact.
In a release earlier this month, Bob Shanks, the company’s chief financial officer, reported that in 2019 Ford sees “the potential for year-over-year improvement in company revenue, EBIT and adjusted operating cash flow.” Shanks further said, “Our imperative to sustain an investment grade rating and a strong balance sheet remains the foundation of our business. For 2019, we expect to be able to fully fund our business needs, while maintaining cash and liquidity levels at or above our target levels.”
Still upcoming are the final quarter and year reviews from GM, Tesla, and Fiat Chrysler.