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Trucks To The Rescue Of Ford And Fiat Chrysler

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Trucks To The Rescue Of Ford And Fiat Chrysler

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU) reported strong profits as demand rebounded. Not only did Ford crush Wall Street expectations, but Fiat Chrysler also had record earnings.

Ford

Ford's top and bottom beats were based on a stronger-than-expected demand during the pandemic. A long restricting has started paying off with a big jump in profit in the third quarter. Adjusted EPS were 65 cents, exceeding the expected 19 cents with automotive revenue of $34.71 billion also topping the expected $33.51 billion.

During the quarter that ended in September, the Detroit automaker earned $2.4 billion. This is an increase from $425 million for the same period a year earlier. Although it lost money overseas, Ford's North American operations and its division that offers credit did well.

The North American branch made $3.18 billion on total revenue of $25.3 billion, which led the way towards profits. The strong figures were a direct result of a stronger-than-expected demand and a rich sales mix of popular Ford trucks and SUVs, along with commercial vehicles. Ford's new-vehicle sales were down just 5% in the third quarter as it increased the share of more-profitable trucks, vans and SUVs. This trend resulted in increased profitability per vehicle sold.

However, Ford expects to break even or show a loss of up to $500 million in the fourth quarter before interest expenses and taxes are taken into account due to costs related to new or redesigned vehicle launches. Ford expects its figures to be hurt by higher costs and lower production due to introducing a fully redesigned F-150 pickup truck, a new Bronco and the Mustang Mach-E electric sport utility vehicle. The redesigned F-150, Mach-E and Bronco Sport are all due to reach dealer lots later this year.

Ford revised its previous guidance that had predicted an annual loss, now expecting positive full-year adjusted earnings are expected. Overall, the Blue Oval plans to invest more than $11 billion on developing EVs by 2022.

It remains unknown when Ford expects to reinstate its prized dividend, which it suspended in March. Overall, despite a 15% increase in October, shares remain down by 17% this year.

Fiat Chrysler

On Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler said it earned an overall net profit of $1.414 billion, marking an increase of 773% compared to last year's loss. Revenues in the third quarter, however, did fall 6% to $30.298 billion, although sales of profitable trucks and sport utility vehicles recovered after a sharp drop in the spring. Ram and Jeep retail sales in North America fueled Fiat Chrysler to a record $2.671 billion in pre-tax earnings and 8.8% margin in the quarter that ended in September. Ram pickup retail sales were up 15% for the quarter, and the profit-heavy truck segment in total surpassed sales of the Chevrolet Silverado for the first time this year. In the third quarter, FCA's North America's pre-tax earnings rose 26% year-over-year to a record $2.9 billion and 13.8% margin.

But FCA also disclosed this week it could face costs of up to $840 million to resolve a Justice Department investigation into excess diesel emissions and as a result of higher fuel economy penalties.

The Italian-American company was just joined by Honda Motor Company (NYSE: HMC) in pooling its fleet with Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) to comply with emissions standards for passenger cars in Europe this year.

The results come as the European Union's executive branch is expected to approve the Italian American automaker's 50-50 Stellantis merger with Peugeot (OTC: PUGOY) and Citroën maker, PSA Groupe, with 14 of 22 jurisdictions already giving their blessing. The two ancient rivals expect the merger that is expected to close during the first quarter of 2021 to bring savings of $6 billion on a yearly basis while providing a scale for electrification.

FCA showed a strong financial position, ending the third quarter with $30 billion in cash, more than $45 billion in liquidity, and having repaid the $15 billion in credit it drew down during the first quarter.

Considering that FCA counts on only one popular pickup as opposed to its Detroit 3 counterparts, it's quite impressive that, just at the start of last year, pickups made up less than a quarter of its vehicle sales, whereas now they make up more than a third. The ongoing success of Ram is expected to continue to add to the company's bottom line as CEO Mike Manley confirmed plans for a battery-electric Ram only a week after General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) debuted its electric GMC Hummer truck. The automaker plans to capitalize further on its trucks as it is also scheduled to unveil the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and a new three-row Jeep SUV.

Outlook

It seems that the third quarter allowed automakers to shake off the pandemic-induced losses from plant and dealership closures as U.S. automakers are reporting a strong financial performance. Record-high transaction prices were fueled by a perfect combination of an unexpectedly strong recovery of demand and low inventories due to spring's shutdowns. Still, the companies are staying conservative in their outlook as COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States and Europe, with Germany and France having already reinstated a second lockdown. General Motors has some large shoes to fill when it reveals its financial results on November 5th.

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