DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. on Thursday reported second-quarter income of $1.1 billion despite a pandemic that idled its North American plants for roughly half the reporting period.
The surprise profit came largely from a $3.5 billion gain on its investment in Argo AI, the company that is developing a self-driving vehicle system. Volkswagen Group closed on an deal with Ford for a stake in Argo last month and CFO Tim Stone said the startup is now valued at $7.5 billion.
The automaker lost $1.9 billion before interest and taxes and one-time items in the quarter as revenue fell 50 percent to $19.4 billion. Still, the operating loss was much less than the $5 billion Ford had forecast earlier in the year.
“Overall it was a good quarter for Ford in light of the circumstances,” Stone said on a call with reporters.
Shares in Ford rose 1.9 percent to $6.74 in after-hours trading.
In addition to the gain from Argo, Stone said Ford benefited from a smoother-than-expected return to work when it restarted assembly plants in May.
In North America, where Ford usually generates the bulk of profits, the company reported a $974 million loss before interest and taxes. Stone said robust pickup sales helped Ford from sinking further in the quarter, and that it was “in good shape” with a 75-day supply of inventory, compared to 79 days last year.
Ford lost money in every region where it operates, including a $664 million loss in Europe and $136 million in red ink in China.
Ford Credit posted a $500 million profit for the quarter, down from an $800 million profit in the second quarter of 2019.
Stone said the captive lender provided payment extensions to 11 percent of Ford customers through May and that 90