NEW YORK—Ford Motor Co. reported $2.6 billion in first-quarter profits this week, its best quarterly showing in 13 years, on strong domestic demand and popularity of fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker experienced brisk sales of its new models Ford Explorer SUV and Ford Fiesta subcompact, and revenues were strong worldwide.
The $2.6 billion in earnings were 22 percent better than last year’s, and the best first-quarter results since 1998, the heyday of large American gas-guzzling SUVs. Both profits and revenues exceeded analyst expectations by wide margins.
“Despite economic conditions,” said Ford CEO Alan Mullaly in a statement, “our team delivered a great quarter, with solid growth and improvements in all regions.”
Operating profits in North America was $1.8 billion, and $293 million in Europe, both exceeding the same quarter last year.
The only weakness in the company’s results was performance at its Lincoln brand of luxury vehicles, which saw sales slip 11 percent. By comparison, its largest domestic rival Cadillac, part of General Motors, saw sales growth of 38 percent during the same period.
Ford said first quarter revenues per vehicle were higher than in recent quarters, due to fewer incentives, which improves its margin. However, it lost some market share in the Americas and Europe to rivals, although part of that is attributable to the fact that it no longer counts Volvo sales and it recently shut down the Mercury division.