Ford Motor Co. earned $1.623 billion in the first quarter of 1988, shattering a world auto industry record for earnings in a single quarter, the nation's second-largest auto maker said today.
Ford's earnings of $3.31 a share on sales of $20.74 billion were up 8.8% over first-quarter 1987 earnings of $1.49 billion, or $2.87 a share, on sales of $18.14 billion.
The previous quarterly earnings record was set by General Motors Corp., the world's largest auto maker, with $1.614 billion in profits in the first quarter of 1984.
Ford profits earned in the United States fell 10.2% in the first quarter to $1.04 billion from $1.16 billion in first-quarter 1987. But the drop was offset by record overseas earnings, which jumped nearly 76% to $580 million from $330 million in the first three months of 1987, Ford said.
"Our first-quarter earnings reflect the good balance of the overall Ford team effort," Chairman Donald E. Petersen and Vice Chairman Harold A. Poling said in a joint statement.
In 1987, Ford set a world industry earnings record for a single year with a profit of $4.63 billion, and was the top-earning U.S. auto maker in 1986, earning $3.29 billion.
Ford blamed the drop in U.S. earnings on the costs of introducing new products and running buyer incentive campaigns, which helped increase sales. Ford's U.S. car market share rose 1.8% from a year ago to 21.8%.
Ford said its foreign performance was boosted in Europe by strong industry volumes, improved operating margins and changes in currency values. It said European performance improved despite a two-week strike at a British plant.
On Wednesday, Chrysler Corp. reported first-quarter earnings fell nearly 32% from a year ago--to $183.7 million, or 83 cents a share, from $269.4 million, or $1.24 a share.
GM, the industry leader, earlier reported an 18% increase in first-quarter earnings to $1.09 billion, or $3.11 a share. In the first quarter of 1987, GM had earnings of $922.5 million, or $2.62 a share.