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Ford: A Tale of Two Continents

North America could not look more different. Shanks said Ford launched the new Escape and the new Fusion late last year and expects "significant gains from both these products in 2013 in terms of share contributions," particularly because the two vehicles were in short supply last year. C-Max was introduced in September, an all-hybrid vehicle that seems to be mounting a challenge to the most successful green car ever, the Toyota (TM - Get Report) Prius.

Additionally, pickup truck sales should be stronger this year as housing construction and oil production both gain. "You know our strength in that particular part of the business," Shanks said. The F-150 has been the best-selling U.S. vehicle for three decades. Also, the industry as a whole is growing and Ford has boosted capacity by 400,000 vehicles.

But even the North American growth won't push Ford margins above 10%, Shanks said. Rather, he said, growth is being accompanied by higher costs for everything from pensions, which require higher contributions when interest rates are low, to the cost of added production to the conclusion of several years of amortization of health care plans. So while operating cash flow should be higher in 2013, profits will be flat, Shanks said.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed
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