Ford Hits Twice-Lowered Fourth-Quarter Target

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Sure,

Ford's

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fourth-quarter earnings met estimates, but those were twice-lowered estimates.

The company, which has had more than its share of problems with its Explorer line's

Bridgestone/Firestone

tire-related accidents as well as an overall slowdown in the auto industry, posted earnings of 64 cents, which was in line with the

First Call/Thomson Financial

17-analyst estimate, but well below year-ago earnings of $1.47 a share.

The figure takes into account the

Visteon

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spinoff and a charge of $133 million, or 7 cents a share, from the writedown of assets associated with the

Nemak

casting joint venture.

The estimate was cut by 10 cents in mid-December after the automaker said it would miss the already reduced estimate because of weather-related losses in North America and parts shortages in Europe. At the beginning of that month, Ford said it would miss the First Call estimate of 85 cents, citing sliding sales.

The automaker said it's already preparing for continuing softening sales demand in 2001 by adjusting first-quarter production schedules.