The second largest US automaker’s chief financial officer Bob Shanks says the company, which posted record third quarter profits on the back of the healthy North American operations, has mostly finished propping its balance sheet.
Ford could now look into spending a chunk of its growing cash reserve towards further expansion investments or grow the shareholder returns. The top executive refrained from saying is the company will come forward with specific plans, but he did not rule a strain of possibilities – such as lifting dividends, having some share buybacks or going towards purchases or partnerships to reach out to new and advanced technologies or expand their business towards new directions, including ride-sharing. “I would want to find opportunities to do that in not only what I would call the core business but as we explore opportunities in what we call Ford Smart Mobility,” he said, talking about future opportunities to invest in growth areas – even as some analysts are expressing concerns another auto cycle is nearing its peak.
Ford this year talked on occasions about its expansion plans – expand its presence in autonomous driving, vehicle connectivity, the use of so-called “big data” and alternatives to traditional car ownership. Ford announced during the quarterly results conference call it has already delivered $600 million to shareholders through dividends during the period, with a total of $1.9 billion during the first nine months of the year. “We’ve got cost increases, because we are investing in the business,” added Shanks, explaining why some analysts warned about the company’s costs.