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Ford profits surged by 65 percent last year

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford stands next to the 2019 Mustang Bullitt and the original Bullitt, right, on the floor at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The automaker turned a $7.6 billion profit in 2017.

Ford turned an annual profit of $7.6 billion in 2017, up 65 percent from $3 billion in net earnings the previous year.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker, which operates the Chicago Assembly Plant just across the state line in Hegewisch and the Chicago Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights, however ended the year on a sour note. Ford made $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter, down from $3.2 billion in the 4th quarter of 2016.

“Our balance sheet remains strong and we are focused on improving the company’s fitness to strengthen financial results,” Ford Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said. “We remain committed to providing value to our shareholders including expected distributions totaling about $3.1 billion in 2018.”

Ford was the best-selling brand in the United States for the eighth straight year in 2017. The automaker's market share rose 0.6 percent to 13.7 percent of the U.S. market.

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Revenue grew by 4 percent, and wholesale volume by 5 percent.

The company, which counts the Lear Corp. seat factory in Hammond as a major supplier, is focused on the future.

“In 2017 we made tremendous progress in laying the foundation for our strategy — smart vehicles for a smart world — from accelerating our connected vehicles plan to expanding our AV and EV event,” President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett said. “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 the future of the brand.”

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.