By Drew Johnson
Thursday, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:20 pm
 
Ford reported its third quarter financial results today, posting a net loss of $380 million. Despite being in the red, the results were vastly improved over the automaker's $5.2 billion loss during the same period last year. General Motors reported a loss of nearly $40 billion yesterday, due to a one time cash charge involving tax credits.

Third quarter results

Revenue during the third quarter increased to $41.1 billion, up from $37.1 billion the previous year. "The increase primarily reflected higher net pricing, changes in currency exchange rates, and improved product mix," Ford said in a statement.

Ford's global vehicle sales were up -- growing from 1,467,000 units to 1,487,000 -- but its North American division still posted a pretax loss. Third quarter North American pretax losses totaled $1.0 billion, although that represents an improvement over last year's $2.1 billion loss.

"Our third quarter performance is very encouraging," said Ford CEO Alan Mulally. "We can see our plan taking hold with significant improvement continuing in our core automotive operations. We remain committed to executing the four priorities of our plan - restructuring the business to operate profitably, accelerating the development of new products that our customers want and value, funding our plan and improving our balance sheet, and working even more effectively together as one Ford team, leveraging our global assets."

Future of Volvo

Ford also announced that it was developing a strategic plan for Volvo in its third quarter earnings report. The document failed to address the long-term plan for Volvo, but indicated that Ford would hold onto the Swedish brand in the interim.

"Our plan now is not to sell Volvo but to improve its cost structure and brand positioning. I think we can do substantially better than where we are today," said Ford CEO Alan Mulally. Mulally also said that Ford would "continue to review its brand portfolio," suggesting that the sale of Volvo is still a possibility.

According to Automotive News, the turnaround of Volvo includes:

* Better positioning of the Volvo brand as a global premium vehicle

* Better separation between Ford and Volvo, allowing Volvo to operate more independently

* Streamlining product development and purchasing between Ford and Volvo

* Disclosing Volvo's financial results beginning in 2008

"The most important thing we can do in the near-term is improve the cost structure, so that's what we're going to focus on," Mulally said.

Although Ford said that it had no plans to sell Volvo anytime soon, it does sound like it is prepping the brand for a future sale. Volvo reportedly lost more that $100 million in the third quarter, a figure that Ford would like to see wiped from its financial statements. The part about separating Ford from Volvo in order to allow Volvo to operate more independently seems like a dead give away that Ford is already preparing to operate without its lone premium global brand.