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Ford’s Rivian investment drags down Q1 earnings, and supply-chain challenges remain

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Ford Motor Co. late Wednesday reported first-quarter results within Wall Street’s expectations, saying that strong demand for its vehicles was tempered by “persistent” supply-chain challenges that crimped the auto maker’s ability to fulfill its orders.

“We are still grappling with persistent supply-chain issues that prevented us from posting an even stronger quarter,” Chief Executive Jim Farley told analysts on a call after results. “We’re working to break constraints whenever they exist.”

Ford
F,
+0.95%

said it lost $3.1 billion, or 78 cents a share, in the first quarter, contrasting with earnings of $3.3 billion, or 81 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Adjusted for one-time items, including losses related to Ford’s investment in EV maker Rivian Automotive Inc.
RIVN,
+1.76%
,
the company earned 38 cents a share.

Revenue fell to $34.5 billion, from $36.2 billion a year ago, Ford said.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected the company to report adjusted earnings of 37 cents a share on revenue of $34.5 billion.

The stock rose more than 1% in the extended session Wednesday, after ending the regular trading day up 1%.

Pricing so far has offset inflationary pressures, although commodity inflation is expected to continue, Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said on the call.

Many of auto dealers are selling vehicles near or above MSRP, Lawler said, and Ford will be “as aggressive as we can” on pricing if commodity prices continue to rise.

Farley said the F-150 Lightning, the electric version of Ford’s best-selling pickup truck, is appealing to younger buyers in states such as New York and California, where “we normally don’t sell full-size pickup trucks.” Overall, demand for Ford electric vehicles is “extremely” high, he said.

Ford reiterated its guidance for adjusted EBIT this year of between $11.5 billion and $12.5 billion, thanks to the “strong demand and pricing environment” for its new and existing vehicles. The company pegged adjusted free cash flow for the year at between $5.5 billion and $6.5 billion.

With the F-150 Lightning deliveries expected to start soon and a “favorable view” of Ford under Farley, “the stock remains one of our top auto picks,” Garrett Nelson at CFRA said in a note late Wednesday.

Ford in March surprised markets with a decision to split itself in two distinct auto businesses, with one focused on electric vehicles and dubbed Ford Model e.

The other focuses on cars with internal combustion engines, and it’s called Ford Blue. The units joined Ford Pro, the auto maker’s commercial-vehicle unit.

When asked Wednesday how employees had reacted to split, Farley said that the reaction had been “terrific.”

“We were prepared … we knew what we needed to communicate with employees,” Farley said.

Ford shares have lost more than 28% so far this year, compared with losses of around 12% for the S&P 500 index
SPX,
+0.21%
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