Ford posts second-highest profit in the past decade

AUTO INDUSTRY

Ford posts one of its best years in decade

Ford Motor enjoyed one of the best years in its history in 2013, but the celebration won’t last long.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker posted a pretax profit of $8.56 billion — the second-highest in the past decade — and worldwide sales were up 12 percent to 6.3 million cars and trucks. That was a faster pace than Toyota, the industry leader, whose sales rose 2 percent to 9.98 million.

But Ford already has warned of leaner results this year as it launches a record 23 vehicles and builds seven plants around the world.

It is anticipating 13 weeks of expensive down time — up from five in 2013 — at its two U.S. pickup truck plants to prepare for the launch of a new aluminum-clad F-150. And instability in South America and price competition in the United States are constant threats.

Ford expects pretax profit of between $7 billion and $8 billion. Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said capital expenditures will total $7.5 billion this year and in the next two to three years, up from $6.6 billion in 2013 and more than twice what it spent four years ago.

Ford’s fourth-quarter net income totaled $3 billion, or 74 cents per share. Excluding a big tax gain, profit was 31 cents per share, 4 cents better than analyst estimates, according to FactSet.

— Associated Press

REAL ESTATE

Home prices rise sharply in November

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose in November from a year ago by the most in almost eight years, providing a boost to household wealth.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property prices in 20 cities climbed 13.7 percent from November 2012, the biggest 12-month gain since February 2006, after a 13.6 percent increase in the year ended in October, a report from the group showed Tuesday in New York.

A limited number of available properties is helping to sustain home-price appreciation even as higher mortgage rates cool demand and leave purchases out of reach for some Americans.

Home prices adjusted for seasonal variations rose 0.9 percent in November from October after a 1.1 percent gain the prior month. The month-over-month price gains were led by Atlanta and Miami, which showed 1.6 percent increases.

All 20 cities in the index showed a year-over-year gain, led by a 27.3 percent advance in Las Vegas. Values climbed 23.2 percent in San Francisco.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

The pain reliever in Aleve may be safer on the heart than other popular anti-inflammatory drugs taken by millions of Americans, federal health officials said. A Food and Drug Administration review posted online states that naproxen — the key ingredient in Aleve and dozens of other generic pain pills — may have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke than rival medications such as ibuprofen, sold as Advil and Motrin. FDA staffers recommend relabeling naproxen to emphasize its safety.

American Airlines Group, which combined with US Airways last month to form the world’s biggest carrier, reported fourth-quarter sales that beat analysts’ estimates as average fares rose. Sales on a combined basis climbed 8.7 percent to $9.98 billion, exceeding a $9.9 billion average among nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Profit was $436 million excluding some costs, compared with a loss of $42 million a year earlier, the Fort Worth, Tex.-based company said in a statement.

Verizon said its shareholders have approved its $130 billion deal to buy the 45 percent stake in its wireless division owned by British cellphone carrier Vodafone. Once the deal closes, New York-based Verizon Communications will no longer have to share its wireless operating profits with Vodafone.

Jefferies Group agreed to pay $25 million to settle U.S. criminal and civil probes into purchases and sales of mortgage-backed securities after the 2008 financial crisis. In a regulatory filing, the Leucadia National unit said a non-prosecution agreement was reached with the U.S. attorney in Connecticut and a civil settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, subject to that agency’s approval.

The deep freeze gripping the U.S. farm belt has slowed barges on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, major arteries for supplying corn, soybeans and wheat to exporters on the U.S. Gulf. The U.S. Coast Guard has restricted traffic to one-way only along a 15-mile stretch of the Illinois River near Peoria, because ice buildup has narrowed the shipping channel. Also, the Army Corps of Engineers has restricted the width of barge tows passing through some locks.

Turkey’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 12 percent from 7.75 percent to try to stave off inflation and support the national currency, which has fallen sharply in recent weeks. The decision was made Tuesday at an emergency meeting after the currency, the lira, hit a record low.

— From news services

Coming Today

2 p.m.: Federal Open Market Committee meeting announcement.

Earnings: Boeing, Facebook.

 
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