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Ford Q1'16 Earnings Conference Call: Full Transcript

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Operator:

Good morning. My name is Tiffany and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Ford First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers’ remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. I would now like to turn the call over to Ted Cannis, Executive Director, Ford Investor Relations. Please go ahead sir.

 

Ted Cannis: Investor Relations:

All right. Thanks very much Tiffany. Good morning and welcome everybody for the first quarter 2016 financial results. As normal, copies of the press release and the presentation slides are available on Ford’s investor website and the media website. As always, the results discussed today include some non-GAAP references and those are reconciled to the US GAAP equivalent in the appendix to the slides.

Also today’s presentation includes some forward-looking statements about our expectations for future performance. Actual results may a vary and those more significant factors are included in our presentation. Also by the way later today we’ll be issuing the 10-Q and Ford Credit will be hosting a call at 11.00 AM to review their results.

Now presenting today and after a few more comments, Mark Fields our President and CEO; Bob Shanks, our Chief Financial Officer. Also participating our Stuart Rowley; Vice President and Controller; Neil Schloss, Vice President and Corporate Treasurer; Paul Andonian Director of Corporate Accounting; and Marion Harris, our Ford Credit CFO.

Before we dive in, we just made some changes to the presentation just to make it all clear for you a bit more overall look to the business, highlight key points and also we just wanted to show you how we are continuing to focus on creating value and driving our long-term growth. So with that, Mark ready to go.

 

Mark Fields: President & Chief Executive Officer:

Hi thanks Ted and good morning everyone. We have some very strong results to share with you today in fact an all time record quarter for the company and very strong performance across the business.

Our company pretax profit came in at $3.8 billion and that was $2.1 billion better than a year ago. Our net income was $2.5 billion and our operating earnings per share was $0.68 and both those results are more than double versus last year.

Our revenue was $37.7 billion and that was up $3.8 billion, increasing 15% from last year at constant exchange and 11% as reported. We grew global market share from 6.9% to 7.1% and that was driven by improvements in North America, Europe and our Asia-Pacific regions. Our automotive operating margin came in at 9.8% and that was a quarterly record and automotive operating related cash-flow was $2.7 billion and that was a record for the first quarter. We also provided $1.7 billion of distributions to our shareholders in the quarter as well.

We had tremendous performance across our portfolio of businesses. Here in North America we achieved a record quarterly profit and a record operating margin of 12.9%. Looking at Europe, we earned $434 million in the quarter and that was up $476 million from a year ago and this was also our fourth consecutive profitable quarter in Europe. Our revenue in Asia-Pacific declined 18% to $2.7 billion and pretax profit more than doubled and Ford Credit Group pretax profit and they delivered more than $500 million in the quarter.

So all in all a very strong start to the year and given our strong start we remain confident in our expectations to deliver another strong year in 2016. And we’re taking the opportunity today to reaffirm the guidance for the company that we gave in January which is to deliver performance equal to or better than last year’s record.

So now let’s turn to slide 4 and we’re continuously focused on the four drivers of shareholder value that you can see on the screen here and that’s about growth, returns, risks, and rewards. So first let’s talk about growth. Growth is strong and it’s especially evident in our trucks, our SUVs and as we pursue expansion into mobility. Second, let’s focus on returns.

We expect strong returns from our healthy mix, targeted increases and investments that will make the business stronger in the years ahead diversifying regional profitability. And this includes continuing our momentum in Europe and Asia, decisively in South America, reducing high cost car capacity, of course increasing efficiencies across the business and levering partnerships where we can.

Third, let’s turn to risk. Our risk profile is improving as we work to reduce our breakeven levels globally with a focus on sustaining our robust structure in North America, strengthening our regional diversity, and maintaining one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry. And finally let’s talk about rewards. We’re continuing to reward our shareholders with the payout of our regular dividend plus a supplemental dividend and we’re remaining absolutely focused on driving total shareholder returns and ensuring and maintaining our regular dividend through a downturn.

So looking at the first quarter on slide 5, as I mentioned early, we made a lot of progress in all for focus areas. We grew our top-line and announced actions to continue grow our core business while expanding our business model into new areas of merging opportunities around mobility. Our returns were strong, setting a number records as I mentioned earlier and demonstrating very strong broad-based performance.

In terms of risk, our business units outside of North America collectively were profitable and improved year-over-year. We also at the saw the progress we have made in approving our risk profile which was recognized by ratings upgrades in the quarter by Moody’s S&P and DDRS and finally in terms of rewards we increased distributions with the addition of a supplemental dividend of $1 billion.

Looking at slide 6 among some of the other quarter’s other highlights, we were recognized for the strength of our products, notably the F-150 as well as for our ethics as the only automaker on the list of the world’s most ethical companies. We continue progress in our journey to grow the Lincoln brand and of course advances in new technologies and new mobility projects.

So with that, now let’s turn to our view of the global business environment and what’s ahead. So looking at the global business environment on slide 7, conditions remain broadly supportive of growth in a global economy. And this will be driven by the US, continued modest recovery in the Euro area, growth in the UK despite probably some increased volatility that we’re seeing ahead of the June referendum and continued growth in China although at slower pace that we seen in recent years. We also expect conditions in Brazil and Russia to remain to difficult in 2016.

And before I turn it over to Bob who’ll take us through some of the details of our performance, let me just underscore again the strength and the broad-based nature of the record quarter that our team delivered. The very strong start to the year and our expectation to deliver another strong year in 2016.

So with that, Bob, you want to take it away.

 

Robert L. Shanks: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer:

Sure so let’s start the financial review here on slide 9 by looking at the key financial metrics both for the company and also the automotive and the financial services sector. Now because I want to cover many of these metrics on the slides I just want to pull out a few things from this one. So first if I ask you to look at the year-over-year performance on the column to the right just scan down that column and you can see everything is essentially positive and very, very positive versus a year ago.

The one exception, is special items. We did not have any special items a year ago. We have two that we’re booking in this quarter. The larger of the two was an $186 million relates to buyout that were a part of the UAW contract that we agreed in the fourth quarter.

The remainder of the special items relate to charges associated with our excess from the Japanese and the Indonesian market.

If you go just above that, you can see our operating EPS of $0.68, $0.39 better than where we were a year ago so more than doubling that and if you go down two lines to after tax results our net income of $2.5 million again we doubled more than doubled that particular metric. What’s not shown on the slide is our tax rate that came in the 29.5% which was lower than what it was a year ago.

So with that let’s turn to the next slide and here we’ll look at the company results. These are absolute look at it by segment. So to the final left you can see the record profit of $3.8 million. Going right to beside that we’ve got the North American result $3.1 billion, goes this far right financial services came in very strong at about $0.5 billion and within that, Ford Credit was $514 million.

We have the best result in Europe since 2008 of $434 million. We doubled our profit in Asia-Pacific at $220 million and then in South America, we had a lot as expected and at least in Africa we fell in to a loss driven by largely the external environment exchange I’ll talk about that in depth and another automotive that’s largely net interest expense.

Now look at the operations outside of North America the business units outside North America, we did make a profit. There was nearly $400 million and that was more than $400 million better than a year ago.

Let’s go the next slide and we’ll start going through the details of the automotive sectors starting with sector sale. These are the key metrics and as you just see across you can see all of them very-very strong and all of them improved compared with 2015 first quarter.

Starting at the left we have strong growth in the top-line both wholesale and revenue up double-digit revenue and constant exchange was actually up 15%. We grew our market share and that was in global SAR that also grew up 3% and that was around North America Asia-Pacific and Europe.

Operating margin was a record at 9.8% up sharply and then automotive also set a record at $3.3 billion again up sharply from really year ago. The next slide and we’ll look at what was behind the improvement. This is slide 12. A $2 billion improvement and as you can see it was driven largely by higher volume favorable mix and favorable cost performance driven by favorable contribution cost.

We did have negative net pricing but within that $548 decline there was a one time stock accrual affect that I’ll talk about in just a minute that was over $600 million and you will note in the call out box for volume and mix. Mix another we had over a billion dollars of good news on product mix and that was a thing that really solid performance not only in North America but also in Europe and in Asia-Pacific .

Let’s go the next slide. Now we will start going through business units with North America. North America of course had extraordinary performance and it was very strong right across the board very strong improvement in the top-line at over 20%, revenue about the same. Market share was up in a growing industry both for the region and in the US and that was driven by two things.

It was in North America and rather in the US it was sales that was around SUVs transit and F Series but also in Canada. We had very strong performance in Canada. We were 1.5 points of share that was driven by F150 and by the Edge. Operating margin of 12.9% a record and then the $3.1 billion that we are talking about earlier.

So really-really strong performance in North America.

 

Mark Fields:

And just some -- we have gotten some questions around fleet sales and Bob mentioned fleet. There is just absolutely no change to our approach in Fleet. Fleet’s good business for us including rental commercial and government sales. We understand these customers real well.

Their use cases. Rental deliveries as we said before were front loaded this year and this is primarily due to the model year changeover which was in some of our vehicles was late last year and based on rental company request because keep in mind rental companies like to purchase their vehicles as close as possible to job one as possible and for the full year we expect our rental sales to be about the same as last year with government and commercial sales up slightly driven by the availability of the new F150 because a lot of the variants have now come on board. So we have good margins in the fleet business and as you can see they contributed nicely to a record performance in the quarter in North America.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Okay thanks Mark. Let’s go to the next slide and we will look at what drove the improvement in North America’s results of over half a billion dollars. As you can see here it was higher volume, it was favorable mix and it was lower cost performance.

That was very strong and some really key parts of the business. Within there’s three or four things I want to call out here. If you look at the stock performance of $691 million in the call out box here that is more than explained by the F Series.

This time last year we were launching F Series, our F-150 rather in Kansas City. Obviously that’s behind us now and we’re operating both Europe one and Kansas City at three so that’s simply reversing what was an anomaly last year and making that more normal so on a year-over-year basis, picked up that good news.

If you go into mix, mix and other about $0.5 billion of that was actually favorable product mix. Again that was around returning to normal with F-150 but also a year ago we were launching the products, the Edge as well as the MKX and we’re benefiting from the fact that that plant is now up and running and we’ve got normal supply of successful products.

If you go into the net pricing. This one is, this one is interesting. You can see the incentives and other negative $1.2 billion, half of that is a one time stock accrual that’s taking place and most of that about 80% of it again is driven by the normally of last year. Last year because we were launching the F-150 in Kansas City we had extremely low levels of inventory and we also had very low levels of incentives.

So in the first quarter this year of course we had normal supply.

The incentives while they’re still lower than our domestic competitors, they’re at what we would consider to be normal levels and so that effect is reflected in the stock adjustment. So you think about that’s an accounting adjustment. It didn’t have any affect in the quarter in terms of what incentives were given to customers and so if you take that out we actually had somewhat positive slow of the positive net pricing and then with the favorable mix that I talked about, leaves us that having higher US retail transaction prices. They were up about $1,500 if you exclude lease.

 

Mark Fields:

Okay let’s go to the next slide and look at South America. South America, the teams doing a great job in a very-very difficult environment and this was really around Brazil because we actually are very encouraged with what we’re seeing in Argentina from the actions of the government the new government has taken since its come into power very- very positive and really bodes well for what we can see from that part of the region in months and years ahead. But if you look at the metrics, we did have sharp decline and wholesale’s is down 38% revenue was 44% half of that actually was exchange.

If you look at market share we had decline as we pulled back from certain sales that didn’t make any sense in terms of profitability. So we lost share if you will in a industry that was down. So the result of that is we had a sharp decline in the operating margin and we’re able to keep the increased loss if you will to about $67 million and we’ll go through that on the next slide please slide 16.

So this was really around industry volume you can see that we have negative industry affected $91 million that was Brazil itself down 29% the team continue to do a great job in cost performance last year we did over $400 million in terms of the cost performance we did $76 million in the quarter and during the quarter a much effect from this during the quarter we did remove the third crude as so we would something I mentioned to the industry that reducing in the let’s check whole of then can mark so things still working to get more cost because the environment is still very-very difficult we still expect probably next year we start two thing bottom out for simply from the commodity cycle and start to turnaround.

Let’s go to the next slide and we’ll turn to Europe which is a great story. Europe if you look at the metrics wholesale volume up while revenue as reported was flat actually up 6% in constant exchange we have higher share in industry that was growing that share was driven in terms of markets by Italy, Germany, and Russia in terms of product, it was basically SUVs and commercial vehicles. The operating margin was over 6% and again that profit that was the best that we’ve had since 2008, so very,very strong performance in Europe.

So the next slide and see how we got there. So the improvement nearly $0.5 billion came from everything. Industry, industry favorable, the volume factors were favorable, the mix that was favorable to tune within that 160 to showing the slide of about $300 million that was both product mix from what we’ve done around the product over the last number of years as well as series mix and options. And then we had favorable cost performance both contribution cost and structural cost and even though its not shown on the slide even though the Russian market continues to be very challenging, actually Russia improved not in year-over-year basis as well.

So team really delivering cross all aspect of the business in Europe and you can see the results of that.

 

Mark Fields:

Yes just a little bit more color on Europe. If your recall report of our European transformation plan that we last launched at the end of 2012, was continuing to invest in our core business of great product and as you can see from the results here, it’s really starting to pay off. Actually our average transaction prices in Europe on a year-over-year basis were up over $1,200 and actually our high series models and sports derivatives accounted for 60% of our Ford passenger vehicle sale, so things like Titanium, ST versions of Focus and Fiesta and even Mustang which I don’t know if you caught this but in March Mustang was the best selling sportscar in Germany beating folks like Porsche 911. So this is really allowing us to accelerate our efforts in total and many other things that we saw in the North American turnaround we’d use as a blueprint for Europe and it’s paying off.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Let’s go on to the next region, Middle East and Africa. This is a region of also that has many many challenges extremely geo-political issues, weak currencies, a number of the markets are major oil producers and so they are suffering if you will in terms of the low oil prices but within that environment the team basically held on wholesales. Revenue was actually flat excluding exchange as reported it was down 9%.

We held our own in terms of share and that was on a declining industry it was down about 7%, 8% but if you take that was actually growing and we don’t in run it was down over 20%. In that environment but we did move into a small loss to $14 million and that was largely driven by weakness of the South African rand. Operations in South Africa and adversely impacted by the weakness of that currency.

Let’s go to the next slide and turn to the great story here in Asia-Pacific. They had another strong quarter driven by new products. We see wholesales up 9% revenue up 18%, 25% at constant exchange and here we also grew share in a region that also was growing the AP SAR was up over 2 million units as was China. So strong performance there was only driven by the new products that we have introduced and China was one of the big factors there as well in terms of market contributions to the share.

We saw share improvement in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, ASIAN, Australia so a lot of good things going on in terms of market performance across the region.

Our operating margin was over 8% and the pre tax resulted 220. On the lower right of the slide 20, you can see the very strong performance we have from our China JV that came in at $443 million that was up sharply over 20% and they generated a margin of 16.4%. The other good thing about the performance in region is that we have good news coming from China but we also had good news coming from the other parts of the region, India, ASEAN, and Australia so that was very encouraging.

Let’s go to the next slide. And this is how we got there. It was largely around volumes so industry share and then the favorable mix I had mentioned earlier and this was again driven by the new products. Edge as was one of the big factors but we saw good news from the Ranger, we saw good news from Mondeo and a number of other products so again broad-based contribution there.

 

Mark Fields:

I just came from the Beijing Auto Show and it was very interesting to see consumers’ fervor for SUVs you saw it not only exhibitors that were they are by just looking at the folks that were crowded around the vehicles and I think the investments that we have made over the last couple of years we have a full line up of SUVs small medium and large is really great for timing of the market and at the same time we introduced the Raptor and I literally had to as we were done presenting it, run out of the way because of the people running up to the vehicle and I think that vehicle will do will not only just from sales stand-point will play a major role but will sell I think everyone we can but what will do to continue accelerate the perception of our brand.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Okay. Let’s move on to another part of business. We absolutely love, that’s Ford Credit.

I should mention that today at 11 o’ clock in and the details are in the press release, we are going to have a Ford Credit earnings call for the first time and that will be led by Silverstone and Marion Harris and you will be able to get much more deeply into that part of the business but we have that in the next slide and data here are to support this call so let’s go through it.

On slide 22 you can see contract volume was flat. We grew everywhere with the exception of the US and that was largely driven by the type of marketing programs that we had in effect the second in the US in the first quarter. Managed receivables were up, pretax results over half a billion as I llion as I mentioned and up and if we look at some of the metrics around US retail and lease performance we still had a very strong cycle score. If you look at the delinquencies over 60 days they were only up 1 basis point, lost receivables up 11 basis points and those are levels that we still consider to be at the very low end of our historical performance so very healthy.

Let’s go to the next slide look at the improved results year-over-year $31 million that was driven by a strong growth in all of our products and regions. We did have unfavorable performance in credit losses and also lease residuals I kind of referred to the lease residual performance at last chat in March and that was driven by a couple of factors. When we had the losses of units that came in during the quarter and we also have an expectation of lower auction values going forward. So we have had an impact in terms of cumulative supplemental depreciation and that’s a very much in line with what I said.

Let’s chat about that metric coming in, bad news year-over-year but less than $100 million.

If you look at the credit loss that was also impacted. There were two things here charge offs increased related to severities and then we also had increases to the reserves expectations again of the impact of lower option values going forward but also just the business being bigger.

Let’s go to the next slide, and this is an added slide given you some additional metrics around some areas that I know of interest from analysts and investors.

On the upper left if you look at lease performance the industry has been we’ve been seeing increasing lease rates over the last number of years but even during the last few quarters and you can see in the first quarter it was up 32%. We have traditionally not been at the same level as the industry which was the case. In the first quarter we came in at 26% our expectations are that for the full year we’ll come in at a level that will be below that and again, we are continuing to follow a proprietary modeling that we do of at least making sure that we don’t have any concentration of risks so there is geographical products there is and so forth and so we are very comfortable to level of leasing but that number will come down for the full year.

On the bottom just beneath that you can see our experience in terms of auction values at first quarter next across all periods there and you can see that we have see a decline and both 24 month and 36 month option values. Versus a year ago we are up sequentially from the fourth quarter. We would normally have expected that increase to be higher. It hasn’t occurred and that is largely based on supply.

We have across the industry more units coming back from the increasing rates of lease over the last number of years. We’ll have about 200,000 units coming back this year.

Demand for us anyway is still very healthy and about where it has been and we just had more units coming back. So we have assumed going forward as I mentioned earlier lower option values and that’s built into our guidance.

If you got upper right you can see the retail contract placement terms are experienced. Of course this has been a given industry trend of longer term placement terms for us at least over the last number of quarters. We’re sort of around that 64-month level. We do have we are participating and terms that exceed that and you can see that on the line about 3% to 4% of our business has been at 73 months or higher which is well below what the industry is at. And if you go below that you can see our fico scores.

You can see we did have decline in the first quarter. That is not unusual. We have gone back and looked at the last 5 years and we generally see that happen a lot better mainly due to the types of marketing programs that we have in place in the quarter which tends to drive a little bit fewer customers to Ford Credit than to other alternative financing.

And if you look at the line you can see our risk portfolio continues to be in that 5% to 6% range that we have had for quiet a number of years. So very robust balance sheet and strong performance by Ford Credit.

Let’s go to the next slide and we’ll look at cash and this is slide 25. I think the best thing to say about the very strong performance on cash flow was it just underscores the quality of the earnings. You can see the $3.3 billion of automotive pre tax profit, over 80% of that’s right through the cash flow so its very, very strong quality of earning message there. With that cash flow we had some pay down of debt, normal maturities.

We did fund some of our funded pension plans. We’re still on track to $1.5 million for the year and then of course the dividends that Mark mentioned. In addition in the quarter we completed the anti-dilutive share repurchase program and it was about $145 million. Ended with very strong liquidity and our note of debt was about $13 billion.

That is up a little bit from where we were at the end of last year and it was largely exchange in some non cash debt changes. Ok, and with that I am going to turn it over to Mark.

 

Mark Fields:

Thanks Bob. So slide 26 summarizes our industry and our GDP planning assumptions going forward and again all in all we see conditions as being supportive, growth in the automotive industry sales globally and for the major market as you see on the slide here. Our expectations for full year industry sales by market are unchanged.

I won’t go through slide 27 and 28 but they show our guidance for each of the business units and our company guidance both of which are unchanged. And just to provide some additional color on guidance. We’re through the first quarter we had a really good start to the year and we will continue to focus on delivering our guidance which is equal to or better than last year’s record. So just kind of bring it all together on slide 29.

The first quarter was and absolutely terrific start to the year for us . It was an all time record quarter for the company with very strong performance across our businesses. Our commitment remains to accelerate our pace of progress even further and again focusing on those four key areas that drive creating value in the company; growth, returns, risk, and rewards.

Importantly we are building on our strengths as we expand our business model both in auto and mobility company and also taking advantage of emerging opportunities to Ford’s smart mobility. And importantly as we grow, we are committed to growing lean and focusing on profitability. So I guess the bottom-line is that we expect 2016 to be another strong year with sustained strong financial performance and returns and with continued strengths into 2017 and I believe our results this quarter clearly demonstrate that our passion for products, our focus on innovation in all areas of our business and driving improved mix, they are driving improved mix, a strong business structure and of course exciting new technology that benefits our customers around the world, all of which is paying off with record performance.

So we are proud of our achievements with the full understanding that we have to continually earn them. We are excited about the future and we are confident in our ability to continue to drive growth, returns and rewards at lower risk across the entire company.

So with that why don’t we open it to your questions.

 

Question & Answer

 

 

Operator:

Thank you. Your first question comes from the line of Pat Archambault of Goldman Sachs.

 

Pat Archambault:Goldman Sachs:

Thank you very much. Good morning and congrats on a great result . I guess maybe two areas of questions for me is, first on the walk in North America. Just a little bit more perhaps on the pricing versus cost piece, maybe I’ll just take it at the very very high level.

I think one would have expected that given the newness of the portfolio, pricing would be still up as it was in previously quarter and I get that there was that inventory adjustment but even with that, it seems that pricing wouldn’t have been much and then also likewise on the positive side I guess I think I was quite surprised by the extent of benefits from lower variable costs right and just given all the new content I guess that took me by surprise as well. So maybe we can talk a little bit about that and how we think about those things going forward?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Yes I’ll take that Pat so if you look at the pricing, you can see we did have strong absolute pricing of about $600 million and that was pretty much if I take the stock side that was pretty much offset by incentives. And again I think this quarter in terms of a run rate is sort more normal. Last year was the anomaly because of what was going with F Series and the launch and I think that really is influencing this because last year we largely did have what we have in the new product we have very low levels of incentives because of how tight the inventory was at that time.

So really what you’ve got is you’ve got F Series or F-150 which is an important product for us in terms of absolute volume coming back to more normal levels but still better than our key competitors.

So I think that largely what supply, we are seeing some benefit from the Edge and MKX although again Edge was in the first quarter performance last year as well. So I don’t think you’re actually seeing so much in terms of brand new products in this quarter versus the lack of that product and in the year ago period which is may a little bit unusual in this particular quarter.

In terms of the contribution cost again I think its the same factor. We didn’t have as much in the way of adverse or increased product related cost, new product cost. Because we had a series largely in the quarter last year not a lot of volume but it was there, Edge was there. So as a result you can see is the great performance the team delivers quarter in quarter out in terms of material efficiencies flowing through.

We also had some good news on down that -- another that was freight with a lot of premium freight in the quarter a year ago related to some of the launches and so that’s coming through.

One thing may be I take the opportunity to answer, I did say I think it was back at Deutsche Bank that we didn’t think we’d see as much benefit on commodity as this year. That clearly has changed based on what’s happened subsequently to continued decline in commodity. I think last year we had I think was $930 million of good news on commodity for the full year, at the moment it looks like we’re tracking to something like that. I still think we’ll have a little bit more bad news on exchange this year on a year-over-year basis and we had last year but the net of the two are still going to be a bit more good news than what we had expected.

 

Mark Fields:

And just one more thing in terms of what to expect going forward. I mean our teams I think are doing a really terrific job of really understanding the consumer and what cost should we be putting in products and I think you’re seeing that path in the mix in terms of the average transaction prices and our average transaction prices are up more than double the rest of the industry and that really comes down to understanding the customers and putting the right cost in the vehicles that drive revenue.

 

Pat Archambault:

Understood. Could I ask please one last on just on production. I think there were some comments out this morning in the press about having to reduce production in the back half just given the inventory situation more on that?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Yeah... Yes what we really see in our second half is primarily around two other factors. One is normal seasonality you’ve got both here and in Europe and second Europe at more some are shutdown weeks. You also have the shutdowns for the current end of the year so its just normal to have less production and therefore less wholesales in the second half than in the first half. It was a bit different last year because of the launches but this is going to be a more normal year.

Secondly we have got the duty launch that I referred to that will take place in the third quarter while we will be able to contain that in terms of down weeks within the normal scheduled summer down time you still have the launch curve which is going to take some volume out which is one of the reasons why we are a little heavy on superduty stock today because we have to anticipate that make sure we have got enough inventory to get through that whole launch and so that’s a key factor.

In terms of tweaking production for inventory that’s just going to be the normal process we see ebbs and flows of demand and inventory and we’ll adjust as we go forward but its really those first two factors that are the key ones that are effecting us its not just North America but particularly in Europe too.

 

Pat Archambault:

Got it. Thanks a lot for the color and congrats on the quarter.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of Ryan Brinkman of JPMorgan.

 

Ryan Brinkman: JPMorgan:

Hi. Good morning. Congrats on the quarter and thanks for taking my questions. You mentioned that warning you gave inter-quarter about the $100 million headwind to Ford Credit in 1Q from your lower used car prices and back in lease.

Your profit there was strong and it rose year-over-year. So can you talk some more about the tail winds impacting that business there is long to offset that headwind whether just increase in portfolio or something else and then as the year progresses, what is your outlook for both the headwind from used car prices and the tailwind from the offsetting factors.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Yes Ryan. Good morning I think its largely the same thing that I said less which is what we would expect to see sort of an adverse year-over-year from least residuals and most of the quarter just that we have ahead of us is not all or some will start to mitigate as we get towards the end of the year. So we think and we built that as I mentioned in March we do have an expectation of lower auction values and that particular on the car side of the business but we have built that in so I think that will be on a year-over-year basis the headwind although again mitigating towards the end of the year but that will be offset by strong growth of the business not only in North America but in other parts of the world as well.

So think that will be an offset and again the other thing I should mention is the team is really really focused on cost performance. Our operating cost performance is the best in the business and that will continue to be something that will keep us lean and mean and Ford Credit continues to generate the type of profitability it has.

 

Mark Fields:

And then Ryan on your question on used car prices I mean obviously you seen some of the reports. This is not a demand issue the demand is there it’s really a supply issue as more of these three year leases come off watch it obviously we’ve done a lot of study to see our used car buyers actually cross shopping with new cars it’s very small it’s in the single-digits but clearly it does have implications for trading value so we’re going to continue to watch that closely.

 

Ryan Brinkman:

Okay thanks and then just on the 6.3% margin in Europe obviously that’s really impressive. If I go back to Analyst Day in September 2014, it looks like your guiding for 3% to 5% margin by 2020 so how sustainable do you think that some pretty Europe is. I understand it’s a seasonally stronger quarter but now presumably as volume continues to normalize higher overtime does that now mean there is upside to your out year 3% to 5% outlook.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Well I think we’re going to have a great year in Europe and then as we said our even though we’re off to a very good start and I think we’re going to continue to have a very good year our objectives is to make Europe a very sustainable and vibrant profitable part of our business and achieving 6% to 8% operating margin and that’s what we’re focusing on and importantly as we do it we’re seeing a lot of the things that we’ve done over the past couple of years pay off on the cost side as you know, reduced our capacities on the brand side if you look at for example our channel mix in Europe we’re about 6 points above the rest of the industry in terms of channel mix of retail and fleet which is good business for us and look at the investment we made in our commercial vehicle brand we’re number one best selling commercial vehicle brand and as I mentioned earlier we’re seeing very rich mix in Europe which I think bodes well particularly based on the experience we seen over a period of time here in the North America.

 

Ryan Brinkman:

Okay, thanks. Just lastly then I am curious with your plan new plant in Mexico and really essentially complete into planning of the US Mexican, Canadian auto market whether you have given much thought to the potential risks to your North American operations into the industry in general from all of this weird rethinking on both sides of the curve of the benefits...

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Well I can’t speak to what’s being said on the campaign trail. Obviously we have these trade agreements where and I think as we look at our business we made a big commitment obviously here to our facilities here in the US and you’ve seen some of the numbers in terms of backing that up, not only just the absolute numbers of what we’ve invested $10 billion over the last number of years and another $9 billion going forward of which some of that announced two days ago, but clearly we manufacture more vehicles here in the US than any other OEM and employee more people , but at the same time, we are looking at our footprint and we are seeing what does it make sense for our business and I think we have a good plan going forward to support our growth, despite some of the political campaign chatter right now.

 

Ryan Brinkman:

Thanks congrats again.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Thanks.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of Rod Lache of Deutsche Bank.

 

Rod Lache: Deutsche Bank:

Good morning everybody I had couple of things first on North America obviously the Q1 numbers are up a lot and as you said the full year earnings will be flat which implies I guess negative comparisons later in the year and I think you alluded to some of those drivers it sounds like lot of it is related to the launches. So as we think about the pluses and minuses last year obviously you had pretty significant number of launches this year you’ve got the super-duty and I presume next year is going to be the same. So as you look out to 2017 are there is some drags there being incurred right now that you think might go away as we look further out.

 

Mark Fields:

Well Rob I think you kind of touched on the number. When you look at our super-duty launch we will have the full benefit of that launch in 2017. Couple of other things we continue to see here in the US customers migrating from passenger cars into SUVs and when you look at our line up and you look at the performance there, we think that continues to board well for us. I think our work overall, as I mentioned earlier, really understanding the costs that we are putting into the product to drive mix, will be important.

So I would look at it you could look at it saying oh my gosh you know the second half is going to be weaker and that’s going to run into 2017. As we said this is kind of a normal year in terms of the calendarization of our profits and sales, but the bottom line as we get into 2017 we see continued strength based on the foundational elements of the business product, brand and cost.

 

Rod Lache:

Okay and can you comment on where you expect to end the year with respect to inventory days, to the extent that there is some a little bit of an elevated level in the field is that something that gets corrected by the end of the year and how should we be thinking about the outlook for the non raw material cost inflation going forward?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

In terms of inventory, Rod, as I said back in March, our expectations are that you will continue to see the inventory levels come down, particularly as we get further into the higher selling seasons in the spring and the summer and then towards the end of the year we always end strong, usually with the end of year sales as well. I think you’ll see us very, very normal by the time we get into the second half of the year in particular, so I don’t see anything unusual there at all. We are a bit heavy right now on super duty, as I said and then, of course, with the very low volume January and February sales months, the visibles, if you will, of the day supply look high, but we are actually quite comfortable with where we are.

So I don’t think you’re going to see anything unusual other than what I just mentioned. In terms of the raw materials I know

 

Rod Lache:

You mentioned non raw material

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Oh, non-raw materials. I think you’re going to have very strong cost performance across the business this year in North America you saw the positive news and the same thing with Europe. You will see seasonal cost increases in the second half and I think you’ll see some cost increases for sure coming from the new super duty which is normal.

We’ll have the product related costs that will come through in the second half of the year which is not unusual in and of itself, but also remember we haven’t updated this product in 19 years. So we’re going to be coming out with a product that’s going to really set the standard and be something that we can sustain over the next 5 to 10 years.

 

Rod Lache:

Is that should that be more benign than what we’ve been seeing with F-Series and Edge and some of the other products that had a lot of content cost added, some of which was regulatory or is there any color you can provide on the trajectory of that content cost related to regulatory?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Yes. We will talk more about that we get to the launch itself and we’ve got an investor day, which happens to be about the same time. So I think we will provide more insight and texture at that time.

 

Mark Fields:

The only thing I would add on that, on the super duty, is just look at our performance on F-150 in terms of the content that we put in it and what it’s driving in terms of revenue. I mean even in the quarter the F-150, our average transaction price was up $1,700 year over year, so customers are really seeing that value and that’s the same approach the team is taking on super duty.

 

Rod Lache:

Great. Thank you.

 

Mark Fields:

Thanks, Rod.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of George Galliers of Evercore.

 

George Galliers:Evercore:

Good morning, everyone. Two questions. The first one just on China. You reported a nice step up in the JV margin, which remains at a very strong level.

What do you see as the sustainable margin for your China JV over coming quarters and do you see improvements in mix and structural costs effectively compensating for lower net pricing or could margins (26 140) still?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Yes, I think will see very strong results for the course of the year, George, from China. I think the margins, I don’t know if they will be at 16%, but they will be double digits will be very, very strong I would suspect might be different by quarter because you get calendarization and volatility by quarter but I think by the time we get to the end of the year , as we have are shown in recent years, so have very, very strong margins. I would add, when you look at that number and you look at the Asia Pacific results, you go what am I missing.

The China JVs is not the total China profit for Ford. We incur engineering that we absorb and are reflected in the results for the region that we don’t recover from the JVs until we actually start producing the vehicles years later.

We’re launching Lincoln. We’ve got other allocated costs that sort of sit at the regional level that you wouldn’t see there. So China very profitable for us and improving year over year, but I think you’ll kind of see very strong performance from JVs over the course of the year. However we offsetting the effect of negative pricing that’s through a lot of cost efficiencies through the business and then we have been benefiting also from the very, very strong mix that we have and I think that will continue through the course of the year.

 

George Galliers:

Okay, thank you and then also just with respect to Europe, I was wondering if you could give any indication on what Brexit, if it happens, might mean for Ford given the importance of the UK market and your fixed cost basis and what strategy or plans do you have in place if it does indeed happen.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Thanks, George. Well, when you look at the issue around the Brexit, obviously, the UK is a very important market for us and what’s important for us as a business is stability, particularly stability in trade, and that’s important because that allows us to continue to build a strong business in the UK for the over 14,000 folks that are part of the Ford team there and that’s why our position has been that it’s beneficial for the UK to be part of a single market, a reformed EU.

In terms of what may or may not happen, I mean we will apply the same approach in the UK as we do in every other part of the world. Is our aim is to keep our businesses globally competitive. So whatever that referendum comes out we will do that.

 

George Galliers:

Thank you very much.

 

Mark Fields:

Okay thanks George.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of John Murphy of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

 

John Murphy: Bank of America Merrill Lynch:

Good morning guys.

 

Mark Fields:

Good morning John.

 

John Murphy:

Just a sort of a simple question on North America when we look at the guidance of 9.5% or higher I mean that would at the low end of the range indicate a sort of a mid to low 8% EBIT margin or pretax margin for the remainder of the year I mean as we think about this and I know there is a lot of puts and takes in your seasonality here but I mean should we kind of focus a little bit on the higher component of 9.5% or higher or do you think that 9.5% is something really should keeping our thought process.

 

Mark Fields:

Well again let me just restate what the guidance is its not 9.5% it’s 9.5% or higher. So we do see upside potential from where we were last year and we just need to refer the year play out we are in the first quarter there is a lot of moving pieces a lot of things that we have to manage we will have as I mentioned lower production which is normal in the second half will have a launch which will have an effect in the second half with all has to come later as Mark mentioned. But we think will come in at 9.5% or higher and team are working, as hard as nearly impossible to make sure that we continue to get everything out of that business unit that we can and they certainly did in the first quarter, so we feel super good about where we are in the quarter and we will have an extremely strong year.

 

Ted Cannis:

And we will provide updates on this into the second quarter when we do the second quarter call.

 

John Murphy:

Yes that’s really helpful. Thank you and then on Europe I mean you kind of eluded to Russia opting to as bigger drag in the quarter just curious you think put Russia in context in the European business sort of size and potential stability and recovery there because it seems like rest of the Europe is firing off so in that said ever stabilizes you can even see some real upside Just to put it into perspective from just a sales standpoint or a share standpoint, in Europe in total, our share was up a couple of tenths to I think about 8% in terms of market share. In Russia, we actually doubled our market share in the quarter from a year-ago period. We are about 3%.

So you can do the math and see the impact from a volume standpoint.

But our approach as you know in Russia going forward, we view that as it’s going to be -- it’s an important market. It will recover over time and the investments that we’ve made both on the product side and the distribution side and just the business structure itself I think will position us well for when the market does start to come back around and that will happen when commodities start coming back around.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

I think that’s a really good point. That is one of the sort of on its own a big profit opportunity for us when the commodity cycle starts to turn.

 

John Murphy:

Then just lastly on slide 24, you gave us some great incremental data here on financial services at Ford Credit. As we look at the sort of the slight extension in terms that are happening in the industry but don’t seem to be happening for you and then also look at sort of the percentage of loans that are above 73 months, can you talk about what’s going on with credit scores and the consumer that’s being offered extended terms because it seems like that’s only occurring in high credit quality consumers and also maybe if you could just comment on prepayment speeds as you’ve seen an extension in terms, because I think they have been picking up.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Yes, I’ll just give a high-level comment and then we will let Marion supplement. What we are seeing and you touched on it and I think we talked about it at Let’s Chat, we are seeing these customers have very, very high FICO scores. These are really high-quality customers. The other thing that’s interesting is we are --- come out of that contract early.

They don’t hang into the bitter end, if you will And so we are also not seeing any signs here or in Canada, which is about 10 years ahead of us in terms of this trend, in terms of extending the trade cycle. So right now it just looks like these customers recognize it has been a good deal and they are taking it, but then they don’t necessarily hold on to it as long as the contract would allow them to. So you’re right and that the industry is higher I think is it like a 17% mix or something like that? That’s around these 73 months terms.

We are not participating in that. We actually are offering in very small volume even 84 months. That’s something that is out there as well, but again, I think you’ll see us trending well below the industry as that trend continues. Marion, do you want to add anything?

 

Marion Harris: Chief Financial Officer, Ford Credit:

No, I think you covered everything, Bob.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of Adam Jonas, of Morgan Stanley.

 

Adam Jonas : Morgan Stanley:

Hey everybody. Really strong quarter. Question on for Smart Mobility LLC, I think that you made some really important efforts to identify some of the opportunities as the industry changes and to put some of these technologies within a kind of captive company. I guess the question is, is there a rationale to take the LLC and to separately capitalize it or create a tracking stock or some form, which has been done by large companies in the past in your industry and in others, as a way to kind of find a mechanism through which to attract and compensate employees that would be that you would be recruiting in that battle for talent that could be done in a more customized way outside the scope of the traditional forces that affect an auto industry auto company’s performance.

I say that seeing your stock up you posted a incredibly strong result. Your multiple is still really, really low. Stock is up a percent and change. At some point does the capital the mechanism through which you can raise and attract capital need to match the mission, if you follow?

 

Mark Fields:

Thanks, Adam and those are some really interesting thoughts. I think, first off, the reason we set up the LLC to begin with is we wanted it what I call separate but connected. Which is to allow the Ford Smart Mobility group to have the organization and the structure to face off with some of the tech and mobility companies in terms of acting really fast and I think going forward it’s still way too early to kind of talk about some of the things that you mentioned. I wouldn’t put them off the table, but at the same token, what’s really important is this Ford Smart Mobility group is working very tightly with our core operations.

I guess where we’re at on Ford Smart Mobility, we are very focused, Adam, on where to play and how to win and as you know, we are generally using experiments and pilots to not only ---- technology and customer preferences, but very importantly test the business models, because at the end of the day you want to make money on these things and we’re doing that before we make, what I would call, major bets on investments, whether it’s internally or externally and we will have more to say about this as our Ford Smart Mobility strategy progresses this year.

 

Adam Jonas:

I appreciate that and look forward to hearing for Mr. Hackett. I just have one follow-up about the cycle. Many industry leaders, including yourself, Mark, I think have made statements like -- and I’m not direct quoting, but that the automobile will see more changes in the next five years than in the last 50.

If you just take that at face value and first, do you believe categorically with that kind of sentiment, but if that’s even order of magnitude correct, what is that mean for the potential for a super cycle of unprecedented replacement of vehicles in the park now that might become obsolete a little faster than in the past? Where do you come out on this with your team? Is this good for SAAR, this urgency to replace and that buying a car is a life-saving decision. Or does it gets stunted by the fact that you have maybe trillions of dollars of used cars where the equity is kind of stranded and creates a credit problem as people you know as trapped in that equity, that negative equity?

 

Mark Fields:

Thanks, there’s a lot of kind of aspects to that question. I do think, I do agree we have said that we are going to see we’re at an inflection point as an industry over the next number of years, given the technology that’s available. Not only in the product itself, but how to serve the customer. So when you look at your comment around is there going to be a super cycle, listen, I mean there’s hundreds of millions of cars, over 100 million cars here or 100 -- I can’t remember exactly the numbers.

There’s a lot of cars here in the US. It’s going to take a long time, even with breakthrough technologies, where people will change that over. Just the math will show you that that will take a good amount of time.

In terms of what technology, whether it’s autonomous or semiautonomous or all the connected cars will do for the industry, what is it going to mean? From our standpoint, we are looking at this first off, it’s too early to tell, but we are really looking at this as vehicle miles traveled. You could argue that in urban areas there may be less car density either because of costs or just outright legislation not to use personal vehicles, which could dampen car sales.

But also, at the same time, if you make something more available and you make it less expensive, it’s used more and if you think about things like autonomous vehicles that will be used 24/7, they will rack up miles sooner, which will drive, as I mentioned earlier, more service revenue and, ultimately, more car sales. So I think it’s still too early to tell. But our strategy, very clearly, is to continue to make the investments on the technology side and the investments on the mobility side so that we can participate in both of those revenue streams.

 

Adam Jonas:

Thanks, Mark, makes a lot of sense.

 

Mark Fields:

Thanks Adam.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the Brian Johnson of Barclays.

 

Brian Johnson:Barclays Capital:

Good morning. Just wanted to go back to sort of more of the next five years in terms of North America and Europe. We seem to, as you have noted had this heavy shift towards CUVs versus sedans seems to be creating what some might call a sedan recession. So as you think about your mid-term capacity plans and putting aside NAFTA and political issues, just where do you think you need more CUV capacity or do you have and I know I keep coming back to this question more ability to get additional factories to be able to flex between the two product lines and then as you look across the industry do you see maybe a risk of too much capacity coming in to the CUV category?

 

Mark Fields:

So on the CUVs, SUVs in terms of flexibility clearly we’ve said, for example, we’re going to come out with four SUVs in actually new segments over the next number of years and what we are seeing, Brian, around the world, literally around the world, is this migration from passenger cars to small and medium and large sized SUVs and CUVs. So, clearly, our planning going forward is looking at the marketplace and making sure that we are there for consumers in that. So I think you’ll see that here in the US. You will see it in Europe and you will see it in Asia Pacific as well.

In terms of your comment of will everybody be going there, well, I think that’s the nature of the business in terms of understanding where consumers are going and that’s why I keep bringing you back to our strategy of how we are differentiating ourselves on fuel economy, safety, quality and smart technology, and using our brand and if you think about this, Brian, whether it’s CUVs or SUVs, this really plays to the sweet spot or really a strength of our brand and we are seeing it now in our results and I think that will board well going forward.

 

Brian Johnson:

And will you be reducing car capacity and do you think and will others do it such in a way to take some pressure off the car pricing?

 

Mark Fields:

While I can’t speak to others, but clearly, as I mentioned, when you think about the number of SUVs that we’re going to be adding, you could see us do that. With the caveat that our approach as a company is to offer a full line up of vehicles and that’s for a couple of reasons. Obviously one to anticipate any changes in customer demand, any changes in the economic environment, or any changes in the regulatory environment.

 

Brian Johnson:

And final question on this shift. What happens when someone comes in with a five year old car, maybe a Japanese brand car, that hasn’t held its value and they’re looking to get into one of your CUVs. Are you hearing anything from the dealers about the need for trade-in allowances, underwater loans, or something to help that car buyer get into car owner get into a CUV?

 

Mark Fields:

I mean we are not hearing anything above the normal kind of commentary we get from dealers on that, so nothing above the normal.

 

Brian Johnson:

Means they always want money?

 

Mark Fields:

That was the politically correct way of saying it, yes.

 

Brian Johnson:

Okay thanks.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of David Whiston of Morningstar.

 

David Whiston:Morningstar:

Thanks, good morning. Just one question on leasing and one question on Europe. Bob, your comments on leasing mix for Ford, if I heard right, you said it’s going to be going down or your penetration will be going down throughout the year and I just wanted to know how much of that is a function of not of not having, say, AA type of credit rating versus standard residual risk management and related, do you think the industry is being too excessive in its leasing penetration right now?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

No. For us it’s we do have what we call the one Ford lease strategy so we’ve [35 0018] analytics behind what we think is the right and appropriate level of lease. We look because we are really we want to make sure we can support what the market needs, but we also want to make sure that we are managing the concentration of risk.

We think that at 26% that will be sort of a high water mark for us this year and some of it is seasonal like when you get into the summer selling season, it tends to be much more of a it’s a retail season and it’s much around APRs and that sort of thing. So there is just a natural change that occurs in certain times of the year. But that’s one of the reasons why we think when we get to the end of the year we will be at something probably a little above last year, but below where we are right now and we think that’s the right level given where the market is. The other thing I would mention is that, for us, there’s a much lower percentage of leasing, in Ford anyway, on super duties and F-150s, on trucks, that has not been I think that’s been generally true across the industry, although some of our competitors got pretty heavy on that in the first quarter in some of the regions of the country. We didn’t participate in that, so I think that’s another factor as well. It’s just our natural mix of product.

 

David Whiston:

Thanks and on Europe, if I heard right, you said 60% of your passenger vehicle volume was on the high-end trim packages, which is impressive. I was just curious is the European customer trading up in price given an economic recovery or are you just attracting wealthier customers than in the past?

 

Mark Fields:

I think it’s a combination, David, of both of those things.

 

David Whiston:

Okay. Thank you.

 

Mark Fields:

Thank you.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of Itay Michaeli, of Citi.

 

Itay Michaeli: Citi:

Good morning and congrats, everyone. Maybe just to continue on Europe, given the improvement in mix and pricing, and I know there’s a lot of political uncertainty out there, as well, for early in the year. But could this be a year where Q1 contributes maybe what it used to contribute in terms of the quarterly cadence back in 2005/2006 when you were profitable in Europe? What prevents this from being sustainable?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

We think it is sustainable. I don’t know if it’s going to be sustainable at the margin, because we would expect again, going back to what is normal. The second half in Europe is generally not as strong as the first half because of the summer shutdowns and the end-of-the-year shutdowns. That seasonal cost effect that comes into play.

But, yes, we think that we’re going to have a good second quarter. We think we will be profitable throughout the year and we’re going to have strong results in Europe. But we do think that it will be a first half stronger than second half story, but it’s still going to be a great story all throughout the year for Europe.

 

Mark Fields:

Which again is a normal kind of cadence of our profitability. Nothing unusual.

 

Itay Michaeli:

Absolutely, that’s good to hear. Then maybe just going back quickly to North America.I know you alluded to year-end inventory targets. I know you don’t provide an annual North America production outlook, but as we think, I think your first half was up about 11% for North America production. Any kind of ballpark of how we should be thinking about the full-year in terms of a range or kind of roughly where you think you might come out as you manage through the launches and some of the inventory?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

No, I don’t think we want to provide a guidance for the full year because we still have a lot of year left in front of us. I think we’re just going to continue to manage the production in line with demand, you can see on Appendix A9, the call for the second quarter for North America, 850,000 units. That’s up 35,000 from where we were a year ago and pretty much in line with where we were in the first quarter. So I don’t see anything unusual in the year progressing.

You will have, again, you will have lower volume in the second half, for the reasons we’ve talked about, throughout the call, just seasonal and also the effect of the Super Duty launch.

 

Itay Michaeli:

Okay, great. That’s very helpful. Thanks so much.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of Joe Spak of RBC Markets.

 

Joe Spak: RBC Markets:

Hi, congrats on a really strong quarter.

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Thanks Joe.

 

Joe Spak:

First question is on commodities. I believe back in Detroit you had mentioned it would be fairly neutral for the year. It was obviously up by almost $0.5 billion in the first quarter.
Is there a change there, or given that commodities are coming back up a little bit, do you expect to maybe give back a little of that in back half?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

What I said in the Deutsche Bank conference was that we would have favorable commodities on a year-over-year basis this year versus last year. It just wouldn’t be as favorable as what it was in 2015 versus 2014.

Getting to the neutral point, that was the point that I was making was that we would have favorable commodities, not as great as last year, but we’d also have more headwinds from exchange in 2016 than what we saw in 2015. So that was the neutral bit. It was good news commodities would be offset by bad news on exchange.

What I said earlier in the call, Joe, is that now we see commodities as being more favorable than what we thought, because the prices have continued to fall. So I think we will see commodities about as much of good news, based on where we are today, as we saw last year, which was over $900 million. But we will still have more bad news on a year-over-year basis from exchange. So the net of those two, while it will be positive, won’t be as positive as it was in 2015 versus 2014.

 

Joe Spak:

Okay, thanks for the clarification. Then on Europe, it sounds like mid or long-term there is a little bit of a bump to that margin target, 3 to 5 to 6 to 8. Is it fair to think that maybe 1.5 or 2 points of that 3 points is related to the pension accounting change and then maybe 1 point is better is just from some better operations or mix outlook?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Well certainly the elimination of that drag that we had on pensions, which we were relatively unique compared to our peer set, that certainly helps. But actually what it is, it’s our view of what we can get out of the business from a performance standpoint of change. The team has done a really, really good job on all the various aspects of the transformation plan , product, brand, and cost and we see more potential now in terms of driving the business to the types of margins that we need than where we were perhaps two years ago.

 

Mark Fields:

To put that into perspective, Joe, again we’re using this momentum to really drive us towards those margins. Not only is the product launches that we have this year, but we’re looking at the product portfolio we have. We are focusing on the products that have high growth and high profitability, and we will drop products that actually don’t have either of those characteristics.
At the same time, we are going to continue to work on the costs. As we’ve said before, we have a voluntary separation program going on right now in Europe which, when all set and done, should save us around $200 million a year annually going forward. So we’re going to continue to work every element of that to make sure it’s a sustainable and vibrant part of this.

 

Mark Fields:

And I would just add, when we had that conversation in 2014 it was only about two years into the plan, so we didn’t fully see the potential that we are now seeing from the business. The aspects of the plan are very much the same, it’s just the team is really, really delivering and we see a lot more potential now for Europe than perhaps what we had before.

 

Joe Spak:

Okay, thanks a lot, guys.

 

Operator:

Your next question comes from the line of Colin Langan, of UBS.

 

Colin Langan: UBS:

Thanks for taking my questions and congrats on a great quarter. I understand the comments about second half getting weaker from a seasonal cadence perspective, but how should we think about quarter over quarter you are going off of record margins in North America, you had a $600 million accrual in Q1, and production in North America looks flat. So should Q2 also be a very strong quarter and the same thoughts on Europe it looks like production is even up quarter over quarter. Should Europe actually maintain a very strong level in Q2 and then fall off in the second half?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

Yes. The only thing that I will say about the second quarter is we expect it to be strong, but I don’t want to get into calling quarters because I’m always wrong. But it will be a strong quarter.

The first and second quarter, again going back to this theme around what’s normal, they are the stronger quarters of the year. I would expect that to be the case this year. So we will have a strong second quarter, I won’t characterize it any way other than that and then we will have the seasonal effect in the second quarter, along with the product launch impact. And then a really, really strong year.

 

Colin Langan:

And is there anything unusual in Q1 that we should be aware of, though, in North America and Europe that actually helped it out that won’t recur?

 

Robert L. Shanks:

No, I’m glad you asked that question, because there is actually nothing in the results in any of the business units that you would consider to be unusual. This is really quality earnings right across the board.

 

Colin Langan:

Okay. Any color on I saw in the press release you mentioned FordPass is rolling out. How has that rollout gone is that going to be something you are going to advertise going forward. Any just color there on that launch.

 

Mark Fields:

Yes. What we’re doing, Colin, right now is we should be launching that in the next month or so and we are very excited about it. Think about we will obviously communicate it, because we think it really provides a way for us to have a fundamentally different relationship, not only with our customers, but customers that don’t own Fords and so what you will see is think about it this way. It’s a launch, but then we will be continually improving it to improve the experience for our customers.

 

Colin Langan:

Okay. Thank you very much for the color.

 

Mark Fields:

Thanks, Colin.

 

Operator:

Your last questions comes from the line of Keith Naughton of Bloomberg.

 

Keith Naughton:Bloomberg:

Good morning

 

Mark Fields:

Good morning, Keith.

 

Keith Naughton:

Mark, there has been some headlines recently that have said that Ford did not plan to offer a 200-mile electric car to compete with the likes of the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt. And I just wanted you to clarify, does Ford plan to offer a long-range electric vehicle?

 

Mark Fields:

Yes, absolutely. I mean our approach, very simply, is we want to make sure that we are either among the leaders or a leadership position in the product segments that we are in and if you look at our BEV today, our focus has about a 100-mile range and that is very competitive for the price point that it’s at in the marketplace right now. That is why, as you know, we’ve made the announcement late last year where we’re going to invest another $4.5 billion into our vehicle lineup on electrification and by the time we end the decade we will have 40% of our nameplates around the world that will be electrified and they will be very competitive from a cost, quality, range standpoint to allow us to move the business forward.

 

Keith Naughton:

And will your long range electrical vehicle go 200 miles and when will that come?

 

Mark Fields:

Well, our electric vehicle will be as I said, it comes down to we want to make sure we are among the best or the leaders in those areas. In that timeframe, when you look at some of the competitors, what they’ve announced, clearly that’s something that we want to we are developing for.

 

Keith Naughton:

Thank you, Mark.

 

Operator:

This concludes the Q&A portion of today’s call. I would now like to turn it back over to Mark for any closing remarks.

 

Mark Fields:

Thank you very much.

 

Operator:

This concludes today’s conference call. You may now disconnect.

Posted-In: Earnings News

 

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