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Ford Motor sets records for profit, operating margins

DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co reported a 113 percent surge in quarterly net income and records for global and North American operating margins, thanks to robust pricing of its F-150 pickup trucks in North America and improved profit in Europe.

Ford’s net income was $2.45 billion, or 61 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter through March 31, versus $1.3 billion, or 29 cents per diluted share, a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, Ford’s earnings per share of 68 cents easily beat Wall Street expectations of 48 cents a share.

Ford shares were up 2 percent at $13.93 in premarket trading and were the most actively traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company’s operating profit of $3.1 billion in North America and its record 12.9 percent operating margin in the region drove the company to a record pretax profit of $3.8 billion.

In contrast, rival General Motors Co reported a first-quarter operating profit margin of 8.7 percent, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had a margin of 7.2 percent in North America.

Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told reporters the company did not change its forecast for a North American profit margin for 2016 of 9.5 percent or better, after reporting a 10.2 percent margin last year.

Ford maintained its forecast for 2016 of a pretax profit that will equal or improve upon a record $10.8 billion last year.

Shanks said the second half of the year is not expected to generate as much profit due largely to downtime for production plants in North America for summer and end-of-year shutdowns.

He said the company would “tweak” production downward at some plants during the second half. He did not specify which plants would be affected, but said that cars are not selling as well as trucks and SUVs.

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