State and Nation Business

Ford’s first quarter profit up 15 pct. to $1.6 billion

DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford Motor Co. reported a better-than-expected $1.6 billion profit in the first quarter as growing demand in the U.S. and China for its new vehicles helped overcome steep losses in Europe and South America.

Ford said Wednesday that first-quarter net income rose 15 percent from a year ago. Worldwide sales rose 10 percent to nearly 1.5 million.

In North America, Ford saw 25-percent gains for both its redesigned Fusion sedan and Escape SUV as well as strong sales of its F-Series trucks as home construction picks up. In China, demand for the Focus helped sales jump 54 percent in the quarter, or more than three times the industry average.

Ford beat Wall Street’s forecast with earnings of 40 cents per share, up from 35 cents in the first quarter of 2012. Analysts polled by FactSet had forecast earnings of 37 cents per share.

Revenue rose 10 percent to $35.8 billion, beating Wall Street’s forecast of $33.5 billion.

Ford earned $2.4 billion in North America, up from $2.1 billion a year ago. It was a quarterly record for the region. In the U.S., Ford’s market share jumped to 16.2 percent from 15.5 percent in the first three months of 2012, the biggest increases for any car manufacturer.

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