Ford: Big win at home, bigger losses in Europe

April 24, 2013: 10:27 AM ET
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Ford reported improved earnings helped by a record quarter in its home market.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Ford Motor posted improved quarterly earnings Wednesday, as strong sales and profit in its home North American market overcame rising losses in Europe.

Ford said a 20% jump in sales in North America helped it post the largest quarterly profit in its home region since the automaker started breaking out those numbers in 2000.

But the company losses in Europe more than tripled from its year-earlier loss, to $462 million. Ford has announced plans to close two U.K. plants, along with a third plant in Belgium, to try to stem European losses. But those plant closings won't take effect until later this year or in 2014.

The problems are not unique to Ford. A worsening European recession has resulted in the worst industry-wide auto sales on the continent in 20 years.

On Wednesday, German carmaker Daimler AG (DDAIF) forecast that earnings for 2013 will be below 2012 levels, after reporting a 60% drop in net profit for the first quarter. Volkswagen (VLKAF) also warned it is struggling with what it called "ongoing uncertainty in the economic environment." But it said it still hopes to match 2012 operating profits this year.

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The problems for Ford weren't only in Europe. South America swung from a profit a year earlier to a loss in the quarter. But it went from a loss in the Asia/Pacific/Africa region into a narrow profit, and earnings also improved at Ford Credit.

Overall, Ford, second in U.S. sales behind rival General Motors (GM), earned $1.6 billion in the first three months of the year, up 15% from a year earlier. Its revenue rose 10.5% to $35.8 billion, as the number of cars sold worldwide rose to 1.5 million.

Shares of Ford (F), which have lagged broader U.S. markets so far this year, were down in early trading following the results, after being slightly higher at the open.

-- CNNMoney's Alanna Petroff contributed to this report

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