Ford third-quarter profits rise to $1bn

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PROFITS AT Ford Motor Co rose 10 per cent to $1bn in the third- quarter as record earnings at the world's second largest carmaker's North American operations offset losses from abroad.

Ford was able to use the higher profits and a $600m reduction in total costs to overcome lower revenues and unit volumes. Total sales and revenues were $32.64bn, down from $36.10bn, while worldwide vehicle unit sales also fell to 1,489,000 from 1,596,000.

Ford said its North American automotive operations had record income of $900m, up from $620m. The North American profit offset a $273m loss in Europe, which was up from a 1997 third-quarter loss of $147m. Ford attributed the loss to lower sales of its Escort and the launch this month of its replacement, the Focus.

Total income from worldwide operations was $646m, compared with $634m a year earlier. At the same time, Ford's cash pile reached a record $22.91bn