Big News Day For Ford

Ford reported Q4 earnings this afternoon, posting a $2.8 billion loss, or a $1.3 billion dollar gain, depending on whether how we count “special items.” That’s a $4.3 billion swing.

The bigger news seemed to be Ford’s 2021 outlook. CFO John Lawler estimated Ford would book an annual pre-tax profit of $8 billion to $9 billion dollars in the coming year. That would be a great year for Ford, and potentially its largest profit in 5 years. Although given that this past quarter’s swing due to “special items” was $4.3 billion, there’s a lot of variability here.

Ford also announced a big investment in electric autonomous vehicles. The headline number is $29 billion through 2025, of which $22 billion will go to electric vehicles and $7 billion will go to autonomous vehiicles. Various tweeters explain some of this headline number includes some expenditures from previous years, so it’s not clear how much of this is new money.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that Ford may under-perform expectations by a billion dollars or two, because of a global shortage of semiconductor chips. The shortage is already hitting both GM and Ford. Ford, in particular, is set to cut shifts at its F-150 plants in the coming weeks, due to the lack of chips. Since the F-150 is Ford’s profit engine, that’s expensive.

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