Ford Motor Co. has entered a period of sustained, profitable growth after weathering a deep economic downturn and years of painful restructuring, chairman Bill Ford said on May 13.
"In 2009 the hard work and sacrifice by so many at Ford began to show results," Bill Ford, the great-grandson of the company's founder, told shareholders at the automaker's annual meeting. "With a dramatically lower cost structure, more competitive labor agreement, the strongest car and truck lineup in our history and positive contributions from Ford Credit, we returned to profit despite the weakest market for new vehicles in 18 years," Bill Ford said.
"This was one of the greatest financial turnarounds in our 106 year history... and the beginning of a sustained period of profitable growth and product excellence for Ford."
Business conditions were already challenging for the auto industry when the credit froze amid the 2008 financial market meltdown, Ford said. The crisis led to the "unimaginable outcomes" of government-financed bailouts and bankruptcies at rivals General Motors and Chrysler.
"It was during this dark time that Ford Motor Co achieved one of our finest hours," Bill Ford told shareholders meeting in Delaware.
Ford was able to weather the storm after it "put everything on the line to secure financing in 2006 to restructure and to provide us with the resources to survive the economic crisis."
Bill Ford said he was "most proud" of the fact that the second largest U.S. automaker "continued to invest in new products and technology throughout the downturn to ensure we had a strong future when the economy began to recover."
There remains significant concern around the world about the prospects for economic growth as well as the availability and affordability of fuel and the impact of emissions on the climate, he noted.
But while Ford is currently "fighting our way back to prosperity," Ford said he is "confident we'll continue to grow profitably in the future."
The fact that our plan is working won't make us complacent or slow us down, but will instead inspire us to move faster and further," Ford said."Our mission remains clear and unchanged: deliver great product, a strong business and a better world."
Chief executive officer Alan Mulally reiterated Ford's expectation that it will achieve full-year profitability on a pre-tax basis in 2010 and noted that it is currently "exceeding our own targets" for growth. "We are more convince than ever that ford has the right plan to lead us through the near term economic and operating pressures and continue to develop profitable growth," Mulally said.
"We expect to see a continuing improvement in 2011."
Ford posted a $2.1 billion profit in the first quarter of 2010, as global sales swelled. That followed a $2.7 billion profit for all of 2009, Ford's first annual profit since 2005.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010