Ford's global earnings were up $582 million or 10% on 1997 before charges of $631 last year. Full-year earnings for Europe last year were $330 million - up $13 million year-on-year - before charges of $137 million. A spokesman said: 'Ford of Europe's 1998 full-year milestone was to be profitable. Ford's 1999 full-year milestone for Europe is to grow earnings.'
However, in Europe the manufacturer reported a fourth quarter loss of $74 million after charges. Excluding charges, Ford earned $63 million, down $95 million on 1997. The slump in fourth quarter profits was blamed on lower sales in some markets, lower exports sales and launch costs associated with the Focus, although losses were partially offset by cost reductions.
However, Nasser said: 'We are determined to improve our results in Europe by continuing to lower our costs, improve our quality and grow the business with new vehicles such as the Ford Focus. To continue to deliver, we know we must increase our consumer focus, strengthen our brands, provide the best total value to consumers, develop leaders at all levels of the company and be responsible in corporate citizenship.'