Ford reports 'one of its best years'

Ford logo Ford has seen strong sales in the US and Asia

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Ford says 2013 was "one of the company's best years ever", driven by a strong performance in the US and Asia.

The US car firm said net income for 2013 was $7.2bn (£4.3bn), up $1.49bn on the previous year.

Fourth quarter net income was $3bn, or 74 cents per share, an increase of $1.4bn compared with the same period in 2012, the company said.

The strong performance helped offset losses in Europe and South America.

Ford president and chief executive Alan Mulally said 2013 was "an outstanding year".

"We are well positioned for another solid year in 2014," he added.

'Hunker down'

The results follow Ford's warning in December that the cost of introducing new vehicles and a deteriorating Venezuelan economy would hit its profits in 2014.

Ford pick up truck in front of crane Ford released a new version of its best-selling F-150 pick up truck in Detroit this year

Ford plans to triple the number of product launches in North America this year.

But that will hit its profit margins, the company said, as older models will have to be discounted and Ford will have to spend more on marketing.

"There weren't many surprises - North America was solid but worse than a year ago, and that foreshadows the transition that the company's going through in the North American operations as they change over to the F-150 [truck] and other models," Guggenheim car analyst Matthew Stover told the BBC.

"In a lot of ways next year is a hunker down and set the base for the company in 2015," added Mr Stover.

Ford produced 6.4 million vehicles in 2013, up 646,000 from a year ago.

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As a result of its 2013 performance, Ford said it planned to make record profit-sharing payments of about $8,800 per person to around 47,000 of its hourly employees in the US.

Transition year

Ford has been open in acknowledging that 2014 will be a transition year for the firm, both in terms of products and changes in leadership.

Mr Mulally is scheduled to step down at the end of the year.

He is credited both with leading the firm back to profitability after the 2008-2009 financial crisis, as well as with changing the corporate culture at Ford.

"Historically, it was a siloed business where there were a lot of fiefdoms and people argued... and Alan in a lot of ways broke that down," said Mr Stover.

The firm faces difficulty in the future returning its European operations to profitability, as well as maintaining its streamlined supply chain to avoid the oversupply issues that plagued Ford and other US car makers during the financial crisis.

Ford shares were mostly unchanged. Overall, shares in the firm are up 14% for the year.

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