By Drew Johnson
Thursday, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 12:30 pm
 
Ford is expected to report a near-50 percent decline in profits when first quarter result are announced tomorrow. Analysts believe that falling sales in Europe and Asia will be mostly to blame for the decline.

According to estimates compiled by Bloomberg, Ford's first quarter net income will tumble to $1.34 billion. If true, that would represent a 48 percent decline from Ford's $2.55 billion profit during the first three months of 2011.

Ford's North American operations may have earned as much as $1.8 billion during the period, but the Blue Oval is thought to have lost at least $225 million during the quarter on its operations in Europe and Asia. Ford previously warned it could lose as much as $190 million during Q1 as the result of a declining European market.

"Ford has done a very good job, marketing wise, to position itself as the fuel-economy leader among the Big Three," Brian Johnson, a Barclays Capital analyst, told Bloomberg. "But they're facing headwinds in Europe, South America and Asia-Pacific."

Ford's U.S. passenger car sales increased 8.5 percent during the first quarter, but increased competition from Asian automaker saw the company's U.S. market share slide from 16.2 percent to 15.5 percent during the period.

Despite the anticipated drop in profits, Fitch Ratings recently upgraded Ford to investment grade.