DEARBORN, Mich. — The Ford Motor Company said on Friday that it earned $6.6 billion in 2010, its largest profit in 11 years, a result of surging global sales and cost cuts made during a lengthy turnaround plan. The performance, a substantial reversal from several years ago when Ford appeared to be the sickliest of Detroit’s automakers, means the company’s 40,600 hourly workers will receive profit-sharing checks averaging $5,000.
The checks, required under Ford’s contract with the United Automobile Workers union, total more than $200 million and are the biggest Ford has handed out since 2000. Ford ended the year with more cash than debt for the first time since before the recession began in 2008. The company eliminated 43 percent of its debt in 2010, though it still owed $19.1 billion.
“Our 2010 results exceeded our expectations, accelerating our transition from fixing the business fundamentals to delivering profitable growth for all,” Ford’s chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said in a statement. “We are investing in an unprecedented amount of products, technology and growth in all regions of the world.”
In the fourth quarter, Ford earned $190 million, or 5 cents a share, after taking a $960 million charge related to a debt-conversion offer. That compared to earnings of $886 million, or 25 cents a share, in the period a year ago. Its fourth-quarter revenue rose $1.6 billion to $32.5 billion.
Excluding the debt-conversion charge and other one-time items, Ford earned of $1.3 billion, its sixth consecutive operating profit.
The full-year profit — Ford’s second consecutive annual profit — _ was equal to $1.66 a share, is more than twice as much as the $2.7 billion, or 86 cents a share, that it earned in 2009 when industry-wide sales were in a historic slump. Revenue for the year was $4.6 billion, to $120.9 billion. Analysts have projected that Ford could perform significantly better in the year ahead, on the strength of new models like the Focus sedan that arrives at American dealerships shortly. The company said it expects “continued improvement” in its pretax operating profit and cash flow.
In North America, Ford earned a pretax profit of $5.4 million in 2010, compared to a $639 million loss a year earlier. The U.A.W. profit-sharing checks are based only on the company’s performance in the United States, which the company does not report separately. The checks, to be distributed in March, are the third-largest Ford has paid to its workers since profit-sharing was added to the union contract in 1983. The record was $8,000, given out in 2000 when the company had more than 100,000 hourly employees. A year ago, workers got checks averaging $450.
Ford increased its market share in the United States for a second consecutive year, the first time it has achieved that since 1993. It surpassed Toyota, which struggled with quality issues related to numerous recalls, to become the nation’s second-largest seller of cars and trucks. Shares of Ford have doubled in the last year and increased nearly tenfold in two years. They closed at $18.79 Thursday.