Ford Q1 earnings rebound as trucks and fleet sales driv…

Ford reported its first quarter 2023 earnings Tuesday after the bell, and it marks the first time the legacy automaker will break down earnings by its three new business units: Ford Blue for the iconic gas and hybrid vehicles, Ford Model e for electric vehicles, and Ford Pro for commercial products and services. 

The automaker reported revenue of $41.5 billion, storming past Wall Street’s expectations of $36 billion, and showing a 20% improvement over the same period last year.  Despite Ford’s push to electrify its fleet, that beat was largely driven by commercial and gas-powered vehicle sales. 

Ford’s net income on a GAAP basis was $1.8 billion, compared to a $2 billion net loss in the 2022 period due to a $7.3 billion write-down on the automaker’s Rivian investment. 

On an adjusted earnings basis, Ford earned $3.4 billion, a 45% increase from Q1 2022 and a margin of 8.1%. 

Ford’s guidance for the full year remained the same at between $9 billion and $11 billion in adjusted earnings. The company expects to have an adjusted free cash flow of about $6 billion in 2023. 

By segment, Ford expects 2023 to see $7 billion for Ford Blue, a slight increase from last year; a full-year loss of about $3 billion for Model e; and EBIT of about $6 billion for Pro, which would represent double 2022 earnings. 

Ford said operating cash flow for the quarter was $2.8 billion, and that it generated $693 million in adjusted free cash flow. The automaker closed out the quarter with nearly $29 billion in cash on hand. 

Breakdown of Ford’s business segments

breakdown of business segments from Ford

This is the first quarter that Ford has broken down earnings via its three business units: Ford Blue, Ford Model e, and Ford Pro. Image Credit: Ford Motor Co.

Ford is still taking a loss on its EV business, which it often describes as a “startup.” The unit brought in $700 million in revenue, a 27% decline from last year, partly attributable to production interruptions of two of Ford’s most popular EVs: the F-150 Lightning pickup and the Mustang Mach-E SUV. Ford said production for the Mach-E was interrupted by “industrial changes that will nearly double manufacturing capacity,” which perhaps explains Ford’s most recent price drop on the vehicle.

That marks the second time Ford has cut the price on the Mach-E this quarter. The first time was in January and followed similar price cuts from Tesla. 

Ford aims to sell EVs at a global run rate of 600,000 units by the end of 2023 and more than 2 million by the end of 2026. The automaker will have to build and ship quickly if it wants to meet that goal. Ford only reported 10,866 EV units sold in Q1 this year. 

Despite the losses within Model e, Ford’s other two units were more than enough to push the automaker into growth territory. Ford said that Ford Blue and Ford Pro business segments were both profitable in every region where they operate. The automaker shipped 1.1 million vehicles in the quarter, an increase of 9% year-over-year, with the majority of sales coming from Ford’s gas-powered, hybrid and electric trucks, commercial vans and SUVs, according to the company.

For the first quarter, Ford Blue brought in revenue of $25.1 billion, up 21% YoY. On an adjusted basis, that’s $2.6 billion. The automaker says it expects to continue to see high growth in this segment.

Ford Pro reported $13.2 billion, a 28% increase from last year. In EBIT terms, that $1.4 billion, which is 3x from 2022 reports. That growth was driven both by sales of Ford’s Transit and E-Transit commercial vans, as well as a 64% increase in paid software subscriptions in the first quarter.  

The automaker’s Credit earnings before taxes were $303 million, which is down from last year due to a lower financing margin, increased credit losses and a decline in leasing income, according to Ford. 

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