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Ford posts US$1.4b loss, stock surges

FORD Motor Co reported a first-quarter loss of US$1.4 billion yesterday but said it burned through less money while restructuring without government aid during a severe auto sales downturn.

The nation's second-largest auto maker spent US$3.7 billion more than it took in during the first three months of the year, far less than the US$7.2 billion it spent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Ford shares surged 76 US cents, or 17 percent, to US$5.25 in pre-market trading.

The loss compares with a US$70 million profit a year earlier. On a per-share basis, Ford lost 60 US cents, compared with earnings of 3 US cents a share for the comparable quarter a year ago.

Revenue was US$24.8 billion, down nearly 37 percent from US$39.2 billion in the same quarter of last year, as sales in the United States declined 43 percent in the quarter.

Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said the company is confident it will reduce its cash burn even further this year, and he said Ford will make it through 2009 without needing government aid.

"This is a very, very difficult environment," Booth said. "We're comfortable we'll get through this year."

Ford drew the last US$10.1 billion from its revolving line of credit during the quarter and said it had US$21.3 billion in cash as of March 31, down from US$28.7 billion in the same period last year.

Booth said the company narrowed its loss from roughly US$6 billion last quarter, primarily due to cost cutting and better pricing for its vehicles.

On a pretax basis, Ford lost 75 US cents a share, beating analysts estimates. Eleven analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a US$1.23 per share loss on revenue of US$22 billion.


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