Autos

Ford shares fall after automaker warns of first-quarter losses and a nearly 16% dive in revenue

Key Points
  • Ford expects a pretax loss of about $600 million, excluding $300 million in special items.
  • Total revenue for the first quarter is expected to be about $34 billion, down 15.7% from a year ago.
Jim Hackett of Ford Motor speaks at an event during the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Jan. 14, 2018.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ford Motor expects to report an adjusted pretax loss of about $600 million for the first quarter as the coronavirus depresses sales and production.

The automaker said Monday that it couldn't yet provide an accurate estimate of its total earnings, but told investors the pretax estimate excludes $300 million in special items. In the first quarter of 2019, Ford posted first-quarter net income of $1.15 billion, and earned $2.4 billion after adjustments

Ford said total revenue for the first quarter is expected to be about $34 billion, down 15.7% from $40.3 billion a year ago.

Ford's stock was down more than 5% during Monday morning trading at around $5.05. Shares of the automaker, which last month had its credit rating cut to junk status by rating agency S&P Global, are down more than 40% this year.   

The company believes it has enough cash to get it through "at least the end of the third quarter with no incremental vehicle production and wholesales or financing actions," said Ford CFO Tim Stone in a release.

As of Thursday, Ford said it had about $30 billion in cash on its balance sheet, including $15.4 billion of proceeds from borrowings last month against two existing credit lines.

Ford, like many automakers, has been forced to conduct rolling plant shutdowns across the globe due to Covid-19. What started as a problem in China to begin the year, quickly grew to a supply base issue and then a global pandemic that shut down U.S. facilities, which remain shuttered.

Urged by the United Auto Workers union, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors announced plans to temporarily close their plants due to the coronavirus on March 18. Fiat Chrysler last week announced plans to restart production on May 4, while GM and Ford have not yet disclosed new dates to reopen their facilities. 

Shares of GM were down about 5% Monday morning, while Fiat Chrysler shares decreased by around 3%.

Currently, Ford said only its operations in China, where coronavirus risks developed earlier and are now moderating, are producing and wholesaling vehicles.

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Ford issues preliminary first quarter numbers, has 'sufficient cash' on hand

Ford's first-quarter vehicle wholesales were down 21% compared with a year ago, "largely as a result of lower production and demand related to the coronavirus," according to the company.

"We continue to opportunistically assess all funding options to further strengthen our balance sheet and increase liquidity to optimize our financial flexibility," Stone said. "We also are identifying additional operating actions to enhance our cash position."

Stone said the company is taking other steps to preserve cash, including by lowering operating costs, reducing capital expenditures and deferring portions of executive salaries. The company last month also suspended its $600 million regular quarterly dividend and its share repurchase program.

Ford is scheduled to report first-quarter results on April 28.