Excluding charges for debt reduction and shedding the Mercury brand, the Dearborn, Mich., company's fourth-quarter earnings were 30 cents per share in the quarter, far short of the 48 cents analysts expected.
Ford executives said earnings dropped because of $1 billion in cost increases mainly from launching new models such as the European Ford Focus compact and the Explorer SUV in North America. Also, Ford'sEuropean unit lost money when a profit was expected.
CEO Alan Mulally was asked in a conference call with reporters and analysts if Ford should have done a better job communicating with Wall Street or if analysts didn't do enough homework.
A: "We can communicate maybe a little bit better on that. We chose to invest even more in our product launches, and the advertising, and the engineering and the marketing."
He went on to say that Ford is getting better prices for its vehicles, the economy is gradually recovering and the company is focused on excellence in its operations.
"I think we're going to generate even improved performance overall in profit and free cash flow in 2011. It's a great story and we're going to tell it a little better."