Straits Not as Dire for Ford, GM

By Stephen Markley  on November 1, 2009
The term “back from the brink” has been making the rounds these days as the economy struggles back from its darkest hour. Perhaps nowhere is there a more surprising example of this than Ford and GM.

First, Ford posted a profit of nearly a billion dollars in the third quarter, shocking most analysts and giving the Blue Oval its first profitable quarter in more than four years. Ford owes the Cash for Clunkers program for some of the bump in sales during August and September that helped it earn $997 million, but the company also attributes its success to cost cuts and higher net pricing for vehicles. Ford expects to return to full profitability by 2011.

Meanwhile, GM CEO Fritz Henderson visited Capitol Hill to update its major shareholder — namely, us, the taxpayers — on its progress. According to Henderson, GM will not require any more aid. But will the government be getting back its $50 billion in loans and equity by 2015? Yes, says Henderson, and in addition, “We are looking at all kinds of ways that would actually accelerate that.”

While Henderson’s words are nice, GM is still a long way off from making good on this promise.

Nevertheless, there was a time last winter when people were seriously discussing the possible collapse of the U.S. automotive industry. After facing down a crushing year, these two companies have to be feeling good that they now stand a few feet — and in Ford’s case, even yards — back from the brink.

No More U.S. Aid Needed, Says GM Chief (Washington Post)

Ford General Motors In The News