Ford Europe upholds higher profit forecast-report


FRANKFURT, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co.'s European division is sticking to forecasts of higher 2007 profits although it is worried about Japanese competition due to the weak yen, Chief Executive Lewis Booth was quoted on Saturday as saying.

"We want to be more profitable than last year," Booth said, according to a summary of an article due to appear in Germany's Automobilwoche magazine on Aug. 27.

Japanese carmakers were exploiting their currency's weakness against the euro and this was making the higher profit expectations especially challenging, Booth said.

Ford of Europe posted a 2006 pre-tax profit of $469 million excluding special items, an improvement of $396 million from a year earlier and its third consecutive year of profit. The unit contributed around 30 percent of Ford's worldwide group sales.

In July, it had a share of 8.2 percent in the European car market, according to the report on Saturday.

Ford was pinning great hopes on the success of new products such as the Kuga SUV and Verve, a small car, Lewis said.

Its European plants were working flat out which was one reason why he hoped that his firm would win a tender to acquire a majority stake in Romanian carmaker Automobile Craiova in September, he said.



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