By AP Auto Writer
updated 7/19/2005 12:11:30 PM ET 2005-07-19T16:11:30

Ford Motor Co. said its profit fell 19 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, stung by lower production and intense competition in North America, where it lost more than $900 million.

Before the market opened Tuesday, the nation's second-largest automaker said it earned $946 million, or 47 cents a share, in the April-June period versus a profit of $1.2 billion, or 57 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, Ford earned $936 million, or 47 cents a share, compared with $1.2 billion, or 61 cents a share, in the same period last year.

The Wall Street consensus, which excludes special items, was for earnings of 33 cents a share.

Revenue in the quarter rose to $44.5 billion from $42.9 billion a year ago. Automotive sales rose to $38.7 billion from $36.7 billion last year.

On a worldwide basis, Ford's automotive business swung to a $245 million pretax loss in the quarter from a $97 million profit a year ago. In the key North American market, Ford reported a pretax loss of $907 million, down $1.4 billion from a $454 million pretax profit a year ago.

The primary culprit: lower production to compensate for inflated inventories because of sluggish sales to start the year.

"Despite profitability in most regions, our global automotive results were disappointing, reflecting the fiercely competitive environment in which we continue to operate, particularly in North America," chairman and chief executive Bill Ford said in a statement.

Ford said the company would respond in part by improving its cost structure and "making essential investments in the future."

"We'll continue to share our plans as the year progresses," he said.

Ford's finance division, Ford Motor Credit Co., contributed heavily to the bottom line, as it has in numerous recent quarters. On a pretax basis, Ford Motor Credit earned $1.2 billion, down from $1.4 billion a year ago, partly reflecting higher borrowing costs.

For the first half of the year, Ford earned $2.16 billion, or $1.06 a share, down from $3.12 billion, or $1.51 a share last year. Automotive revenue for the first half rose to $78 billion from $75.5 billion a year ago.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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