Ford Posts $1.4 Billion Loss, Burns Less Cash

By JEFF BENNETT

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DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. said it has enough money to make it through this year after posting a smaller-than-expected first-quarter loss amid cost-cutting that helped the auto maker slow its cash burn.

Ford reported Friday a net loss of $1.4 billion, or 60 cents a share, compared with a profit of $70 million, or three cents a share, for the year-earlier quarter.

The auto maker’s loss, excluding one-time items, was $1.8 billion, or 75 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting on average a per-share loss of of $1.23.

Revenue sank to $24.8 billion, led by a sharp falloff in U.S. sales. The year-earlier total was $43.3 billion, including $4.1 billion from sold-off nameplates Jaguar and Land Rover.

Ford shares rose 23% in premarket trading to $5.54.

“On balance, a solid set of results given the current climate,” J.P. Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel said in a research note Friday. He added that a recent rally in Ford’s shares is “not unjustified but [we] see only modest incremental upside potential in the equity at these levels.”

Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said the first quarter was a positive for the company and the $21.3 billion in cash on hand will cover any financial needs through 2009.

Ford, unlike General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, hasn’t tapped federal loans intended to keep U.S. auto makers afloat amid slumping auto demand and tight credit.

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