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Ford could exit parts of South America to cut losses

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. could soon present a fix for the millions of dollars it loses in South America, which might mean exiting parts of the region.

J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman wrote in a note issued Tuesday that the automaker’s leadership is considering “an out-of-the-box transformational plan to stanch what it deems as unacceptable losses in South America which we expect could be announced over the short-term. Ford is evaluating strategies in relation to doing business in emerging markets overall. ... It could also entail selective exits from certain markets.”

“South America remains important to our overall business operations and we continue to focus to make it operationally fit,” said Said Deep, a Ford spokesman said.

While the company reported a $1.7-billion profit in the third quarter, it lost $158 million in South America. That was the third consecutive loss there this year. Since 2011, the company has lost $2.6 billion in that region, including $1.1 billion last year.

Analysts have said that exiting that market could immediately boost profits. Ford has given no indication it plans to leave any region of the world, a once-unthinkable notion that General Motors Co. already is doing. GM ended 20 years of loses in Europe by ditching those operations this year. It cost GM $3 billion this quarter, but the company’s top executives say it will bring long-term shareholder value and growth for a company seeing a surging share price in recent months.

Brinkman also wrote Tuesday that Ford is expecting challenges in Europe due to electrification demand there the company will have a hard time meeting.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau