Ford Australia has reported its worst ever operating loss of $290 million, after two consecutive years in the black. The figure takes in an after-tax operating loss of $78 million and a one-off tax impairment of $212 million. Ford Australia says the tax-impairment is "related principally to tax losses generated in the current year and carried forward from prior years".
Ford's last statement in the red was in 2008, at $274 million.
A downturn in customer demand for large cars and constraints on supply of the all-important new Ranger model during the year was also costly, spokespersons admitted. At the same time, Ford Australia committed $282 million in research and development including projects related to the Ranger and some "which can't be talked about now," Ford Australia spokeswoman Sinead Phipps told motoring.com.au.
"But they stand for an investment in our future," she said. "Reports will say we've been less profitable but our response is that if we hadn't committed investment, it would have been irresponsible."
Ford Australia CEO, Bob Graziano (pictured) said his company had also consciously "walked away from less profitable business" over the past year. He said Ford Australia had remained focussed on delivering results to serve the global One Ford plan, including "leveraging Ford’s global assets" and accelerating development of new products "that customers want and value".
Presumably that no longer includes the Falcon; allowing room for Ford’s small and medium offerings including Focus and Mondeo. Profitability on Focus also stands to do better now that source arrangements from Thailand have been confirmed. Ford's figures suggest a move away from large cars has affected the company's revenue from $3.3 billion down to $2.8 billion.
"There is no doubt that the automotive industry remains very competitive and challenging. However, we continue to invest significantly in our business with an emphasis on more fuel-efficient vehicles and we saw positive share increases for Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo," said Graziano.
"In addition to the five new vehicles we introduced in 2011, we started 2012 by announcing a further $103 million investment across Falcon and Territory and have also just introduced the new Falcon EcoBoost, which provides four-cylinder fuel economy with the performance feel of a six-cylinder vehicle.
"We will continue to focus on driving profitable sales growth across our full range of vehicles and improving our business fundamentals as we move through 2012."
Ford's announcement follows Holden's statement yesterday that the company was operating in the black despite a downturn in profit and revenue.