Business news

Ford struggles with profits outside U.S.


DEARBORN, MICH. — Ford has shown it can make money even with U.S. car sales at depressed levels. Now it needs to show it can manage challenges outside its home region.

North America was the only region where Ford Motor Co. saw profits rise in the fourth quarter and in all of 2011. Everywhere else the automaker lost money or saw profits fall, hurt by nervous consumers in Europe, flooding in Asia and aging products in South America. Costs rose faster than expected, too.

Ford reported $13.62 billion in net income, but investors brushed off the result because most of that came from an accounting change. Excluding that change, earnings totaled $1.1 billion, or 20 cents a share, down 15 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010. Ford missed Wall Street’s expectations by 5 cents.

The stock price took an early hit but recovered once the company promised better – if still bumpy – results in 2012. Shares fell 4 percent to close at $12.21.

Proctor & Gamble’s market value rises

NEW YORK — Emerging markets are playing a bigger role in Proctor & Gamble Co.’s growth, in another sign U.S. companies are courting new customers overseas.

The maker of Tide laundry detergent, Crest toothpaste and Pampers diapers said Friday that its market value grew 9 percent in developing countries over the latest quarter, but just 2 percent in North America and 0.5 percent in Western Europe. P&G reported a 49 percent drop in profit for the second fiscal quarter, hobbled by higher costs for materials and a big write-down on the value of two of its business units.

Union memberships see slight growth

WASHINGTON — Union membership grew slightly last year, giving labor leaders hope that a period of steep declines has finally bottomed out.

The number of unionized workers increased by about 50,000 to nearly 14.8 million members in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The increase comes after unions lost nearly 1.4 million members over the previous two years.

Still, unions’ share of the overall workforce fell, from 11.9 percent to 11.8 percent, as state and local governments trimmed thousands of jobs to address budget shortfalls. That’s the lowest percentage of union workers since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

In other news

FACE­BOOK COULD file regulatory papers as early as Wednesday for its highly anticipated initial public offering of stock, according to The Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, the paper said Friday that the company could raise as much as $10 billion in an offering that would value the company at $75 billion to $100 billion.