Ford reports loss, but rejects bailout

Ford Motor Co. reported a first-quarter loss of $1.4 billion Friday and said it used less of its cash, emphasizing that it doesn't expect to seek any of the government assistance that is keeping the rest of the Detroit Three alive.

The nation's second-largest automaker said it spent $3.7 billion more than it took in during the first three months of the year, far less than the $7.2 billion it spent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said the company is confident that it will slow the drain on its cash even further this year. He would not speculate whether Ford would need to seek government aid in 2010.

"This is a very, very difficult environment," Booth said. "We're comfortable we'll get through this year."

While General Motors and Chrysler have accepted billions in federal aid and are racing toward deadlines to make deep cuts or file for bankruptcy, Ford was the first U.S. automaker to modify its contract with the United Auto Workers union and strike a deal to make up to 50 percent of payments to a union-run health care trust in stock instead of cash.

The company also completed tender offers to reduce its debt by more than one-third.

The company said the moves would result in annual savings of $1 billion.

Ford drew the last $10.1 billion from its revolving line of credit during the quarter and said it had $21.3 billion in cash as of March 31. That's down from $28.7 billion in the same period last year.

Ford's first-quarter loss compares with a $70 million profit a year earlier. On a per-share basis, Ford lost 60 cents, compared with earnings of 3 cents a share for the comparable quarter a year ago.

Revenue was $24.8 billion, down nearly 37 percent from $39.2 billion in the same quarter of last year, as Ford's U.S. sales declined 43 percent.

Booth said cost cuts and better pricing for its vehicles helped the company narrow its losses, and he expects continued improvement for the remainder of the year.

The company said it remains on track to break even or post a profit on a pre-tax basis in 2011.

In other automotive news, taxpayers invested another $2 billion in GM this week as the struggling auto giant continued efforts to restructure and avoid bankruptcy court.

The Treasury Department said Friday that it lent the additional money to GM on Wednesday. The loan pushes the total amount of GM's government aid to $15.4 billion.

GM has until June 1 to complete restructuring plans that satisfy the government's auto task force, while Chrysler has until Thursday to finish restructuring and ink an alliance with Italy's Fiat Group SpA.