Ford profit beats estimates
Ford Motor Co, the No. 2 US automaker, posted a higher-than-expected profit for the first quarter on Friday as the strength of its core North American unit offset weak results overseas, particularly in Europe, and higher taxes. The automaker reported first-quarter net income of US$1.4 billion, or US$0.35 per share, down from US$2.55 billion or US$0.61 a share a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, Ford reported a profit of US$0.39 per share, compared with analysts’ estimates of US$0.35. However, Ford shares were down 1.9 percent at US$11.65 on Friday afternoon, as analysts said the company’s annual profit outlook suggested that second-quarter results will fall short of estimates. Analysts project Ford will earn US$0.42 per share in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Ford said earlier this month that it would lose market share in the US this year as consumer demand for cars and trucks is outstripping its capacity to build them.
GDP target slashed
Ireland on Friday slashed its growth forecast for this year to 0.7 percent from last December’s budget estimate of 1.3 percent as depressed consumer demand drags on the eurozone economy’s recovery. The government also revised next year’s GDP growth forecast from 2.4 percent to 2.2 percent. The Irish economy returned to growth last year, the first time since 2007; last year’s underlying deficit was 9.4 percent of GDP, significantly ahead of the EU/IMF target of 10.6 percent of GDP; and the government’s revenues are increasing, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement.
S&P downgrades Nokia
Standard & Poor’s (S&P) on Friday downgraded Nokia’s credit rating by one notch and warned that it may reduce it again unless the company’s performance improves. The rating agency said it was lowering the Finnish company’s long-term corporate credit rating to “BB+” from “BBB-” and its short-term corporate credit rating to “B” from “A-3.” The downgrade came after Nokia Corp posted huge first-quarter losses and a 30 percent drop in sales and a report earlier on Friday estimated Samsung Electronics Co had overtaken it as the world’s largest maker of mobile phones. “We now expect Nokia to report significantly lower margins and cash flows in 2012 than we had previously expected,” S&P said.
Fired CEO gets US$16.4m
Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz received a compensation package valued at US$16.4 million in her final year on the job, including a US$3 million severance payment after the troubled Internet company abruptly fired her in September last year. Bartz, now 63, stands to make even more from the nearly 386,000 shares of restricted stock and nearly 416,000 stock options that vested upon her ouster, according to regulatory filing from Yahoo Inc on Friday. Options and awards she got earlier in the year tallied at US$12 million. She also could still reap a windfall from 5 million stock options that she received when the company hired her in January 2009. None of those 5 million options have vested because Yahoo’s stock has not yet hit any of the required price targets. Last year’s package of US$16.4 million represented a 37 percent increase from 2010’s package of US$11.9 million. In 2009, Bartz ranked among corporate America’s best-paid CEOs with a package valued at US$47.2 million.