Ford’s Fields Sees Growth in Europe, Eyes Profit by 2015

Ford Motor Co. is sticking with its forecast for a smaller loss in Europe this year and a return to profitability in 2015 even as the company sees signs of growth.

Auto sales in Europe are growing this year after falling to a two-decade low in 2013. Through February, sales rose 6.3 percent, and March results are due tomorrow. Ford is gaining share in the region and in key markets, such as Germany, Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields told reporters today at the New York International Auto Show.

“The good news is we are seeing, not only the market actually growing a bit, but our performance -- our share was up again in the first quarter and we’re adding production,” Fields said. “We’re starting to see our plan be effective.”

Fields, promoted to COO in late 2012, is the front-runner to eventually succeed Alan Mulally as the chief executive officer of the second-biggest U.S. automaker. In a speech that officially opened the New York show, he said the Lincoln brand’s MKZ mid-size sedan is “starting to resonate” with U.S. car-shoppers and that Ford hasn’t changed its recall practices in light of GM’s crisis over faulty ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.

Ford’s market share in Germany grew by 1 percentage point in the first quarter, Fields said in an interview on Bloomberg TV.

“The market is starting to grow again overall, gradually,” Fields said. “Our share is up.”

Executive Chairman Bill Ford said he has been talking with Mulally about the importance of making a smooth transition to his successor.

“The final act of a great CEO is having a great transition,” Ford said today on Bloomberg TV. He declined to say if Fields would succeed Mulally, who has said he will stay at the automaker through this year.

Ford’s shares rose 1.5 percent to $16.07 at the close in New York.

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