DEARBORN, Mich. — With its 10th straight quarterly profit, Ford is becoming a victim of its own success.
Ford reported a $1.6 billion profit in the third quarter, down 2 percent from a year earlier but still higher than Wall Street's expectations. Investors promptly pummeled the company's shares, disappointed by slowing growth, rising costs and the carmaker's decision to hold off on paying a dividend.
Ford shares fell 5 percent to close at $11.87. Their most recent peak was $18.79 at the start of the year.
David Silver, an analyst with Wall Street Strategies, said many investors expected Ford to continue the huge profit gains of 2010. Ford's net income jumped 70 percent in the July-September period last year, mainly because 2009 was terrible.
"The expectations are extremely high," Silver said.
Many analysts, including Silver, expected Ford to announce it would reinstate its dividend, which it stopped paying in September 2006. But chief financial officer Lewis Booth said the company wasn't ready to take that step despite having $8 billion in cash. It needs to focus on improving its finances.
Ford's earnings amounted to 41 cents a share. That compares with earnings of 43 cents in the third quarter a year earlier.
The company's profit was lowered by a $350 million non-cash charge to reflect falling prices of some commodities such as copper and aluminum. Ford had bet those prices would be higher, but copper fell 25 percent in September alone. Ford said the charges could reverse if commodity prices rise in the future.
Ford earned 46 cents a share excluding the costs of closing its Mercury brand. That beat Wall Street's expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet forecast earnings of 45 cents a share.
The country's second largest automaker said revenue rose 14 percent, to $33.1 billion.