F » Topics » Key Economic Factors and Trends Affecting Automotive Industry

This excerpt taken from the F 10-K filed Mar 10, 2005.
Key Economic Factors and Trends Affecting Automotive Industry

      Excess Capacity. According to CSM Worldwide, an automotive research firm, in 2004 the estimated automotive industry global production capacity for light vehicles (about 74 million units) significantly exceeded global production of cars and trucks (about 60 million units). In North America and Europe, the two regions where the majority of revenue and profits are earned in the industry, excess capacity was an estimated 17% and 13%, respectively. CSM Worldwide projects that excess capacity conditions could continue for several more years.

      Pricing Pressure. Excess capacity, coupled with a proliferation of new products being introduced in key segments by the industry, will keep pressure on manufacturers’ ability to increase prices on their products. In addition, the incremental new capacity in the United States by foreign manufacturers (so-called “transplants”) in recent years has contributed, and is likely to continue to contribute, to the severe pricing pressure in that market. In the United States, the reduction of real



Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (Continued)

prices for similarly contented vehicles has become more pronounced since the late 1990s, and we expect that a challenging pricing environment will continue for some time to come. In Europe, the automotive industry also has experienced intense pricing pressure for several years for the same reasons discussed above, which has been exacerbated in recent years as a result of the Block Exemption Regulation discussed above in Item 1. “Business — Automotive Sector — Europe”.

      Consumer Spending Trends. We expect, however, that a decline in, or the inability to increase, vehicle prices could be offset by the spending habits of consumers and their propensity to purchase over time higher-end, more expensive vehicles and/or vehicles with more features. Over the next decade, in the United States and in other mature markets, we expect that growth in spending on vehicle mix and content will grow at least as fast as real GDP per capita. The benefits of this to revenue growth in the automotive industry are significant. In the United States, for example, consumers in the highest income bracket are buying more often and are more frequently buying upscale.

      Although growth in vehicle unit sales (i.e., volume) will be greatest in emerging markets in the next decade, we expect that the mature automotive markets (e.g., North America, Western Europe and Japan) will continue to be the source of a substantial majority of global industry revenues over the next decade. We also expect that the North American market will continue as the single largest source of revenue for the automotive industry in the world in the next decade.

      Health Care Expenses. As a provider of health care coverage to our employees, retirees and their dependents, primarily in the United States, we have experienced significant health care inflation in the last few years. In 2004, our health care expenses for U.S. employees, retirees and their dependents were $3.1 billion, with about $2 billion attributable to retirees and the balance attributable to active employees. Prescription drug cost continues as the fastest growing segment of our health care expenses and accounted for about one-third of our total U.S. health care expenses in 2004.

      Although we have taken measures to have employees and retirees bear a higher portion of the costs of their health care benefits, we expect our health care costs to increase. For 2005, our trend assumptions for U.S. health care costs include an initial trend rate of 9%, gradually declining to a steady state trend rate of 5% reached in 2011. These assumptions include the effect of actions we are taking and expect to take to offset health care inflation, including eligibility management, employee education and wellness, competitive sourcing and appropriate employee cost sharing.

      Commodity Price Increases. Commodity price increases, particularly for steel and resins (which are used extensively in the automotive industry), have occurred recently and are continuing during a period of strong global demand for these materials. Manufacturers in China and other global steelmakers have responded through increases in capacity and production of steel. We expect this, coupled with an easing in global demand pressures, to result in pricing trends beginning to moderate in the intermediate term.

      Currency Exchange Rate Volatility. The U.S. dollar depreciated against most major currencies in 2004. This created downward margin pressure on auto manufacturers that have U.S. dollar revenue with foreign currency cost. Because we produce vehicles in Europe (e.g., Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo models) for sale in the United States and produce components in Europe (e.g., engines) for use in some of our North American vehicles, Ford experienced margin pressure, although this was partially offset by gains on foreign exchange derivatives. Ford, like most other automotive manufacturers with sales in the United States, is not always able to price for depreciation of the U.S. dollar due to the extremely competitive pricing environment in the United States.



Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (Continued)

Wikinvest © 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. Use of this site is subject to express Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Disclaimer. By continuing past this page, you agree to abide by these terms. Any information provided by Wikinvest, including but not limited to company data, competitors, business analysis, market share, sales revenues and other operating metrics, earnings call analysis, conference call transcripts, industry information, or price targets should not be construed as research, trading tips or recommendations, or investment advice and is provided with no warrants as to its accuracy. Stock market data, including US and International equity symbols, stock quotes, share prices, earnings ratios, and other fundamental data is provided by data partners. Stock market quotes delayed at least 15 minutes for NASDAQ, 20 mins for NYSE and AMEX. Market data by Xignite. See data providers for more details. Company names, products, services and branding cited herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The use of trademarks or service marks of another is not a representation that the other is affiliated with, sponsors, is sponsored by, endorses, or is endorsed by Wikinvest.
Powered by MediaWiki