Ford Drops on Sales News

Ford Motor ( F) said its vehicle sales fell nearly 17% in November, but it still beat expectations, thanks to demand for its Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models.

Shares of the world's No. 2 automaker were down $1.47, or 12.8%, at $9.98 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Heading into Tuesday's session, the stock was down 36% from its 52-week high set last December.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based auto giant said the number of cars and trucks sold in the most recent month fell to 261,705, compared with 313,906 in the same period last year. Ford Expedition sales jumped 18% to 16,445, while Lincoln Navigator sales rose 11% to 2,433.

"We are on track to finish the 2002 calendar year with a higher market share than where we started," the company said in a press release.

The company also set plans to cut production at its North American plants to meet year-end inventory targets for certain car models. Ford now expects to produce 940,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter, 25,000 vehicles fewer than previously anticipated. In the first quarter of 2003, Ford said, it would produce 1 million vehicles.

Despite the cutbacks, the company remains comfortable with guidance provided back in mid-October, calling for full-year earnings of 40 cents a share. That implies a fourth-quarter profit of 3 cents a share. Analysts are expecting the company to earn 9 cents in the fourth quarter and 47 cents for the year, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.

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