Ford Motor Company Taking a Dive

July 24, 2008


Ford Motor Co. posted the worst quarterly performance in its history Thursday, losing $8.67 billion in the second quarter.

The company also said it will retool two more North American truck and sport utility vehicle plants to build small, fuel-efficient vehicles, and it announced plans to bring six new small vehicles to North America from Europe by the end of 2012.

The net loss includes $8.03 billion worth of write-offs because the sharp decline in U.S. truck and SUV sales has reduced the value of Ford’s North American truck plants and Ford Motor Credit Co.’s lease portfolio. Even excluding those items, Ford lost 62 cents per share, worse than Wall Street expected. Twelve analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, on average, expected a 27 cent loss per share.

Including the write-downs, Ford lost $3.88 per share in the April-June quarter, compared with net profit of $750 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

The second-quarter loss surpassed Ford’s previous record quarterly loss, $6.7 billion in the first quarter of 1992.

Second-quarter revenue was $38.6 billion, down $5.6 billion from the year-ago period. Analysts expected $34.6 billion.

Ford has been successful selling cars in Europe, and the company is banking on the new European models to boost sales and revenue as it deals with a market shift from trucks to cars brought on by high gasoline prices.

The company said it has sufficient liquidity to weather the latest downturn in the U.S. auto market without additional borrowing. Ford borrowed $23.4 billion in 2006 to fund its North American turnaround.

“We are pleased that we went to the capital markets at the right time,” Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally said in a conference call with investors and media. “We have the scale, the expertise and the financing to execute our plan.”

Wall Street wasn’t impressed, at least initially. Ford shares dropped 58 cents, or 9.6 percent, to $5.45 in morning trading.

The company said it will retool the Michigan Truck plant in suburban Detroit, shifting its products from large SUVs to make global vehicles off the European Focus platform by 2010.

The SUVs made at Michigan Truck — the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition — will be shifted to the Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville, which makes Ford Super Duty pickups.

The company also will retool the Louisville Assembly Plant, which now builds the Ford Explorer midsize SUV, to produce vehicles on the European Focus frame, starting in 2011.

The company had previously announced it would retool its pickup truck factory in Cuautitlan, Mexico, to build the Fiesta subcompact for North America starting in 2010.

Ford also said its Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minn., will continue producing the Ranger small pickup through 2011. The plant was scheduled to close next year, but Ranger sales are down just 4 percent in the first half of this year, versus 18 percent for the U.S. light truck market as a whole.

The company also plans to revamp the body shops in nearly all its North American assembly plants so that they will be more flexible and able to respond more quickly to changes in market demands. Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair said it costs about $250 million per plant to make those changes.

Leclair said Ford’s capital expenditures will reach $6 billion annually between now and 2010 because of the cost of revamping plants and introducing new products and engines. Ford plans to upgrade or replace all of its engines by 2010.

“What you’re seeing is kind of a bubble that we’re going to go through … but early on we’re going to see cost savings because of the economies of scale that we’re getting as we develop more and more vehicles off of fewer platforms,” he said.

Cost cuts also will come from employee layoffs. Ford said 4,000 U.S. hourly workers took buyouts in the second quarter, and the company will continue offering buyouts at targeted U.S. plants. Ford also has announced plans to cut its salaried costs by Aug. 1 through voluntary and involuntary layoffs.

The company said its write-offs included $5.3 billion in North American auto operations and $2.1 billion for Ford Credit because of the drop in the value of the plants and equipment that make trucks and SUVs, and the lower price Ford Credit can fetch for them at auction when leases expire. Leclair said 85 percent of the Ford Credit write-down was triggered by the drop in truck and SUV values.

Ford reported a pretax loss of $1.3 billion in North America because of the deteriorating U.S. market and the shift away from trucks. U.S. sales overall were down 10 percent in the first half of the year, with Ford’s sales down 14 percent.

The company, though, continued to be profitable overseas, posting a $582 million profit in Europe and $388 million in
South America. The company also made $50 million at its Asia-Pacific-Africa division.

“The second half will continue to be challenging, but we have absolutely the right plan to respond to the changing business environment and begin to grow again for the long term,” Mulally said in a statement.

Ford said it does not expect a U.S. economic recovery to start until early 2010.

The company identified only three of the European small vehicles it will bring to North America: the Transit Connect small van, the European Focus and the subcompact Fiesta. Most will be built in North America, and Leclair said some might be exported. Ford already has announced that the Transit Connect will be imported from Turkey.

Ford said the other three vehicles would be identified later, including one that is unique within its segment.

Other possible vehicles are the Kuga small crossover, the C-Max small van and the Mondeo midsize car.

Ford also announced that the next-generation Ford Explorer midsize SUV will come out in 2010 and be built on car underpinnings, making it more fuel efficient than the current truck-based model. And it announced it will build a seven-passenger car-based crossover vehicle for Lincoln in mid-2009.

This story was originally posted on Yahoo News

Andre Jetmir for iNPLACENEWS

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


Famous Reporter Novak Allegedly Runs Old Man Over

July 23, 2008


The pedestrian who was struck by prominent Washington columnist and commentator Robert Novak is in worse shape than first thought, a hospital source tells ABC 7 News.

The victim, a 66-year-old man, is undergoing surgery and was only semi-conscious, the source said.

In an exclusive interview with ABC 7 News, Novak said felt “terrible” about striking a pedestrian Wednesday morning while on his way to work in downtown D.C.

Metropolitan police cited Novak with failure to yield to a pedestrian about 10:07 a.m. at 18th and K streets NW, Novak confirmed to ABC 7 News.

Novak spoke to ABC 7 News as he emerged from a police car at the scene. Novak said he did not know he had struck anyone. Novak said he didn’t know anything was wrong until a bicyclist rode ahead of him and blocked traffic. The bicyclist informed Novak he had hit a pedestrian.

In an interview, the bicyclist told ABC 7’s Suzanne Kennedy the pedestrian was splayed across Novak’s windshield, and there was no way that Novak could not have known he struck someone. The cyclist, David Bono, also said that the pedestrian was in a crosswalk and had the right of way.

Novak admitted he was emotionally shaken by the incident.

Metropolitan Police Department (web|news) officers detained Novak at the scene for about an hour. He was not arrested

D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Alan Etter said the pedestrian complained of pain in his arm and was taken to George Washington University Hospital with what were described as minor injuries at the time.

Stay with ABC 7 News for the latest information.

Story provided by ABC 7 in Washington, DC

Andre Jetmir iNPLACENEW


Secrets of the New XFiles Movie

July 23, 2008

Producers of the new X-Files film, I Want to Believe, have gone to great lengths to keep major plot points a secret, and now it seems as if they’re getting a little other-worldly help. Exclusive, one-on-one interview tapes in which Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny explicitly confirm a belief held by many of the show’s fans — but never officially admitted in the show or the first movie — that Mulder and Scully had a baby named William, have mysteriously disappeared, leaving only low-resolution, digital dubs as proof that they ever existed.

The interview was conducted at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills by a Filmazing reporter late Saturday afternoon and recorded on beta video tapes. The tapes were dubbed onto a computer hard drive, then sat safely in a studio for the duration of the weekend. The tapes were then taken to a UPS store in Studio City, California, late Monday morning. The destination was to be Comcast’s Backstage daily entertainment show, which is broadcast on CN8 throughout the East. Their studios are located near Boston. On Monday, host Sara Edwards had promised viewers the exclusive scoop on the X-Files movie the next day.

But the interview tapes, showing Anderson and Duchovny chatting about the baby, never arrived. UPS was contacted and is still searching frantically for the tapes, but couldn’t even locate the tracking number. It’s as if the tapes never existed, or disappeared into the ether. It would have been clearly impossible for anyone related to this film to interfere with the tapes in order to squelch a potential spoiler. X-Files fans might conclude that some other, unseen forces are at work. Viewers can decide for themselves what they Want to Believe.

Article courtesy of Filmazing.com

iNPLACENEWS


McCain: 3 Strikes and You Are Out

July 23, 2008

Here, while appearing on NBC News with Diane Sawyer John McCain possibly misspoke when talking about the “Iraq/Pakistan Border” which, according to maps (and facts), is not geographically possible.
Iraq and Pakistan do not border each other, and they are separated by Iran.

Read about Strike 2 here.

iNPLACENEWS


Once is a Mistake, Twice is Senility

July 23, 2008

First, McCain refers to a country that has been closed and split for over a decade: Czechoslovakia.

Now, he thinks Putin is the President of Germany. Not only is henot the President of Germany, Putin is NOT the President ANYWHERE.

What’s next? giving the orders to nuke North Korea or Iran then forgetting he said it?

Experience or not, McCain is TOO OLD and forgetful. All the experience in the world is not going to help him remember anything.

See the story of his last and final strike here.

iNPLACENEWS


Five South Koreans Kidnapped in Mexico For Ransom

July 22, 2008

Five South Koreans, one woman and four men, were kidnapped while driving in Reynosa, a Mexican border city across the border from McAllen, Texas, police and embassy officials said Tuesday, and their captors reportedly are demanding a $30,000 ransom.

According to the South Korean Yonhap news agency, the captors falsely identified themselves as police, a common practice among criminals in Mexico. Mexican officials are investigating but had no leads in the case yet. In a statement made by a South Korean Embassy spokesman, the ransom had not been paid. He added that the kidnapped group had been looking into working in Mexico but did not elaborate. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the five were alive, but Kim said officials were still trying to confirm that. Mexico has one of the highest rates of kidnappings for ransom in the world.

Many abductions are never reported to police, in part for fear officials themselves might be involved or that they would bungle a possible rescue.

iNPLACENEWS


Are US and North Korean Relations Improving?

July 22, 2008


The United States has proposed a mechanism for verifying North Korea’s claims about its nuclear past, Washington’s top envoy to the nuclear talks said Monday.

The proposal was made in Beijing last week, and the U.S. is waiting for a response from Pyongyang, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters.

After giving North Korea the proposal “we … asked them to come back with specific comments,” said Hill, who will assist U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in talks between the foreign ministers of the six nations involved in the nuclear negotiations – China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s main nuclear envoy confirmed the proposal was made to the North.

“The ball is actually in the North Korean court because they already received the draft of verification protocol,” Kim Sook told reporters after talks with Hill. Details of the proposal were not known.

Hill said the six-party talks, to be held Wednesday on the sidelines of a regional security conference in Singapore, are likely to discuss the verification issue.

North Korea submitted a long-delayed list of its nuclear programs last month, though it omitted details about nuclear weapons, alleged uranium enrichment program and possible nuclear proliferation.

In return, Washington announced it would remove the North from its terrorism blacklist and relaxed some economic sanctions on the communist nation. That led Pyongyang to blow up the cooling tower at its main nuclear reactor, to demonstrate its commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons.

Six-nation nuclear negotiations were then held in Beijing less than two weeks ago – for the first time in nine months – and produced an agreement on principles for proceeding with verification of North Korea’s claims. One of the principles says the procedure should involve interviews with North Korean nuclear experts.

Hill has said earlier that the U.S. wants to reach agreement with the North on a specific verification protocol by early September. Last week’s proposal offered to the North is believed to be the first draft of the envisioned protocol.

“We’ve always maintained that verification is essential,” Hill said Monday. “We hope to make some progress on that very soon.”

Wednesday’s session would mark the highest-level meeting in the six-country negotiations, which began in 2003 with the aim of convincing North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program.

It would also be the first time Rice has met North Korea’s top diplomat.

China, host of the nuclear talks, praised the planned meeting as a good chance to progress on denuclearization.

“This is the first time that the high-level delegations to the six-party talks have held an informal meeting,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi after talks with his Japanese counterpart. “I think it will be very good for advancing the agenda of the talks.”

Still, Hill played down the meeting’s significance.

“I would not exaggerate its importance,” he said. “I think it’s an opportunity for people to get together and exchange some thoughts informally.”

Article by Jae-Soon Chang
iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.