Jan. 28 - Pickups and the EcoSport SUV helped boost Ford's revenue, but the automaker faces big risks in Latin America. Fred Katayama reports.
Strong sales of Ford's pickups in the U.S. and the EcoSport sport utility in China helped drive revenue and income higher in the latest quarter. Helping boost profit: record earnings in North America and China and a smaller loss in Europe as the economic recovery picked up on the continent; that offset Ford's weakness in South America, where a shortage of dollars forced it to cut production in Venezuela. Ford reaffirmed its forecast for pretax profit to fall as much as 19 percent. The 16 new vehicles it's launching this year could cut into profit because it'll have to stop production lines to accommodate the new models and spend more to support the launch. The stock rose sharply on the earnings results. But Buckingham Research analyst Joseph Amaturo said: "We would expect the stock to come under pressure as the company experienced no earnings per share growth year-on-year despite the 3.5 percent year-on-year revenue growth." The big risks down the road are down south: Venezuela and Argentina, where Ford notes the devaluation of the peso is accelerating and the government has slapped controls on car imports.