A Ford Motor Co. logo stands behind a row of F-250 pickup trucks at the Rob Baker Ford dealership in Plainview, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Ford is scheduled to release earnings figures on July 24. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Dearborn, Michigan - Ford’s quarterly pretax profit fell less than analysts had forecast, as sales in China increased and the company reported its first profit in Europe in three years, the US vehicle maker said yesterday.

Ford reported its 21st consecutive profitable period, with net income of $1.3 billion (R13.7bn) compared with $1.23bn a year earlier. Excluding one-time costs, second-quarter profit was 40c a share, beating the 36c average estimate of 16 analysts.

Rising sales in China and Europe helped to offset the negative effects of a currency crisis in Venezuela, as well as higher taxes and increased costs to introduce 23 new models worldwide this year.

Ford sales in China soared 35 percent in the first half to a record 549 256 vehicles, while deliveries rose 6.6 percent in Europe.

Ford has said profit would decline this year as it spends to roll out new models such as the new aluminium-bodied F-150 double-cab bakkie, its top seller.

“This is a transition year for Ford, a year of investing for much better things in 2015 and 2016,” said David Whiston at Morningstar in Chicago. “In China, Ford is just going gangbusters.”

Ford has earned $42.3bn in the past five years after losing $30.1bn from 2006 to 2008. – Bloomberg