Ford's losses last year included heavy provisions for its extensive restructuring plan, which includes the 16 plant closures in North America.

  

"Weighed down"

 

The American car manufacturer reported a full year earnings-per-share loss of $6.79 and a quarterly loss of $3.05.

  

Excluding certain charges, however, the quarterly loss equated to a worse-than-expected $1.10 per share as most Wall Street analysts had anticipated a loss not exceeding that figure.

  

The automaker’s headquarters in Michigan, US, said restructuring and other costs had weighed down earnings by almost $10bn last year.

 

During the fourth-quarter of last year Ford said it lost $5.8bn compared with a loss of $74m in the same period.

 

Ford "confident"

 

Leading Ford executives said that they remained confident the automaker could return to profitability no later than 2009.

 

"We began aggressive actions in 2006 to restructure our automotive business so we can operate profitably at lower volumes and with a product mix that better reflects consumer demand for smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles," said Alan Mulally, a chief executive at Ford.

 

Ford's sales of its pick-up trucks and big sports utility vehicles (SUVs) suffered last year as American consumers sought more fuel-efficient cars and trucks amid record-high surges in oil prices.

 

"We fully recognise our business reality and are dealing with it. We have a plan and we are on track to deliver," said Mulally, a former Boeing executive hired by Ford in September.

 

Ford stressed that outside the United States, its operations in South America and Europe were profitable last year.

 

The company said it had liquidity of $46bn including arranged credit lines at year-end.