S&P lowers ratings for Ford, its credit arm

New York: Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Thursday lowered Ford Motor Co.'s corporate credit rating further, citing concerns about the company's ability to turn around its North American operations. S&P also downgraded Ford's financial arm, Ford Motor Credit Co.

The agency downgraded the ratings from BB+ to BB- and assigned Ford a negative outlook. S&P first lowered Ford into non-investment grade status last year. The No 2 US automaker lost $284 million worldwide, and $1.2 billion in North America in the third quarter. Even as its health care and labor costs have been rising, the company has also been losing US market share at the same time.

S&P said weakened sales of mid-size and large sport utility vehicles have particularly hurt Ford, which depended on those products more heavily than other automakers. Ford is expected to announce job cuts and plant closures when it reports its fourth-quarter earnings on Jan. 23. It will be the company's second major restructuring plan in four years.

S&P said it will take Ford several years — at best — to turn around its North American automotive business. S&P said Ford's consolidated debt totals $141.7 billion and the company has $19.6 billion in cash.