US tax and job reforms helped pushed Ford Motor Credit net income up almost 120% year-on-year, but financing for Europe sales recorded a slowdown.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by the US Congress last year, boosted Ford Credit profits to $3bn (£2.1bn) for FY 2017, despite stagnating financing revenues.
The company added that profits were mainly driven by strong receivables growth, financing margins and lease residual performance.
Financing shares (including fleet) in North America and Europe fell slightly, with the share on UK sales decreasing to 35% (2016: 38%). European contract volumes were slightly up, but Britain registered a fall of 13%.
Across the wider Ford group, revenues totalled $156bn, up 3% year-on-year thanks to higher wholesale volumes. Revenues in Europe were $29.7bn, up 4%, however operating margins plummeted to 0.7% (FY 2016: 4.2%).
Because of the one-off nature of favourable tax cuts in the US, Ford expected 2018 pre-tax profits to be lower than in 2017.
Additionally, Ford said higher commodity prices and currency exchange fluctuations will keep eating into margins, as they did in 2017. Of the $400m currency exchange loss the company suffered in Q4, two-thirds were reported by Ford to be due to Brexit.
Jim Hackett, Ford president and chief executive officer, said: “In 2017, we made tremendous progress in laying the foundation for our strategy – smart vehicles for a smart world – from accelerating our connected vehicle plans to expanding our AV [autonomous vehicles] and EV [electric vehicles] network.
“As we move into 2018, we are intensely focused on improving the operational fitness of our business to deliver strong results while continuing to build toward our vision of the future.”
Bob Shanks, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said: “Our balance sheet remains strong and we are focused on improving the company’s fitness to strengthen future results. We remain committed to providing value to our shareholders including expected distributions totaling about $3.1bn in 2018.”