DETROIT ( TheStreet) - Ford ( F) reported its highest annual net income in 10 years, but fourth-quarter earnings fell short of estimates. Excluding items, Ford earned a pretax operating profit of $1.3 billion, or 30 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated 48 cents. The pretax operating profit declined by $322 million from a year earlier. Revenue was $32.5 billion; analysts were expecting revenue of $30.4 billion. Including a $960 million charge for completion of debt conversion offers in the fourth quarter, net income was $190 million, or 5 cents a share. Fourth-quarter automotive pretax operating profit was $741 million, a decrease of $173 million from a year ago. Fourth-quarter financial services pretax operating profit was $552 million, a decrease of $149 million. North America posted a fourth quarter pretax operating profit of $670 million, up by $59 million. In Europe, Ford reported a pretax operation loss of $51 million, compared with a profit of $253 million a year earlier. Ford said the result was less than expected, "reflecting primarily lower market share driven by actions to maintain margins." For the full year, net income was $6.6 billion. "Our 2010 results exceeded our expectations, accelerating our transition from fixing the business fundamentals to delivering profitable growth for all," said CEO Alan Mulally, in a prepared statement. "We are investing in an unprecedented amount of products, technology and growth in all regions of the world." During the year, Ford reduced automotive debt by $14.5 billion, a 43% reduction, and finished the year with automotive debt of $19.1 billion and with automotive gross cash of $20.5 billion.
"The progress that we made improving our core automotive business has allowed us to strengthen significantly the balance sheet in 2010, and this will remain a key area of focus for us in 2011," said Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth. Looking ahead, Ford said it expects that each of its automotive divisions will be profitable in 2011 and that automotive operating margin will be equal to or improved from 2010 results. For Ford Credit, Ford expects lower profitability than in 2010. In premarket trading Friday, Ford shares were down 5% to $17.76. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: