Product Launches Expected To Drag Ford's 2014 Profits Down

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Ford Motor Company closed the books on 2013 with a strong fourth quarter. For the year, Ford's net earnings surpassed $7 billion. It delivered 6.3 million vehicles, an increase of more than half a million over 2012. But Ford is warning this year will be a tough one.

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MONTAGNE: Ford Motor Company closed the books on 2013 with higher than expected profits. The Detroit automaker's net earnings for the year surpassed $7 billion.

But as Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, Ford is warning that 2014 will be more challenging.

TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: Last year was one of Ford's most profitable ever. The Detroit car company's market share grew in the U.S. and China. Its balance sheet improved. And the Focus was the best-selling car in the world.

Great. But 2013's already in the rear view mirror. Ford says 2014 profits will be down and a major reason is new product launches. Ford will sell fewer of its highly profitable F-150 trucks, because a new one's on the way.

That will require the company to shut down its Dearborn and Kansas City truck plants for weeks this summer to retool.

Alex Gutierrez is an analyst with Kelly Blue Book.

ALEX GUTIERREZ: They've got a new Mustang coming, they've got the F-series, there's a Lincoln MKC crossover, so a lot of new product coming this way, which is a good thing for Ford, but if you're just looking solely at profit, might hit them quite a bit.

SAMILTON: Jesse Toprak of Cars.com says Ford will still have a great year - as long as it keeps a laser focus on quality. The company's popular new Escape was plagued by multiple recalls. Toprak says Ford seems determined to avert similar problems this year.

JESSE TOPRAK: Things are rocking and rolling, it's just a matter of keeping that momentum going and keeping the passion going within the company.

SAMILTON: Ford's blue collar workers could be rocking and rolling, too. They'll each get a record profit-sharing check of about $8,800.

For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton.

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