Ford Motor shares tumbled more than six percent Wednesday after the company forecast disappointing 2014 profit and said its mid-decade profit margin target was at risk.
Ford signaled some headwinds to 2014 profit following a 2013 that it rated "one of the best full-year results in its history," due to greater automotive revenues and higher market share in most regions.
The company expects full-year 2014 pre-tax profit to come in at $7-$8 billion, below the $8.5 billion expected for 2013. Most analysts were projecting profits to rise in 2014.
The 2014 profit figure is "substantially below our estimates and even more so the street," said a note from Deutsche Bank, which had previously forecast 2014 profits of $9.8 billion.
Ford said earnings will be dragged down from the effects of an unusually busy schedule of new auto launches in 2014 that will cause higher startup costs and force lower prices on vehicles beingphased out.
Ford will have 16 launches in North American in 2014, triple the number this year.
"The payoff for North America from the 2014 launches and investments we incur for future periods will be a stronger product lineup and volume and revenue opportunities into 2015 and beyond,"said Ford executive vice president Bob Shanks.
Ford also said its targeted mid-decade global automotive operating margin of 8-9 percent is "at risk" due to weak conditions in Europe and South America, especially Venezuela.
"The company expects its results over the mid-decade period to be strong and improving," Ford added.
Deutsche noted that Ford sees 2014 as a "transition year with major product investments that should pay off in later years." The near-term profit pressure is "likely temporary and is company-specific to Ford," Deutsche added.
A note from Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Ford's 2014 outlook appears "light" but that the long-term potential "looks positive."
Near 1715 GMT, Ford shares fell 6.7 percent to $15.57 after trading as low as $15.17 earlier in the session