No. 2 U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co expects its profit for the rest of the year to ease off from the 13-year high it reported for the first quarter, pinched by higher commodity costs, an executive said.

The company expects second-quarter earnings to come in at or slightly below reported first-quarter levels, with earnings for the second half of the year to be slightly weaker than the first half, Bob Shanks, vice president and controller, said at an investors' conference on Wednesday.

We continue to expect our structural costs this year to increase, Shanks said. We also continue to expect that commodity costs will increase by about $2 billion.

This view is in line with the company's full-year guidance, Shanks said. The company in April reported first-quarter profit of $2.55 billion, or 61 cents per share, coming in well ahead of analysts' forecasts.


Shanks acknowledged the growing concerns that the global economy may be losing momentum -- reflected in the 6.7 percent pullback of the Standard & Poor's 500 index <.SPX> from its highs of early May.

Clearly there is a lot of nervousness out there, Shanks said. We're prepared for what's coming at us one way or the other. I think we're in a relatively good place from what could happen to us from an economic standpoint.

Analysts, on average, look for Ford profit excluding one-time items to hold roughly steady this year at $1.92 per share, as sales rise 13.7 percent to $126.39 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shanks noted that Ford has now paid its revolving credit line, which had stood at $800 million at the end of 2010. The company sees that as an important step toward its goal of regaining an investment-grade credit rating.

The company last week said it would cut its debt to about $10 billion by the middle of the decade, bringing it to well under one-third the $33.6 billion it was carrying in 2009. The debt burden is the legacy of Chief Executive Alan Mulally's move to borrow aggressively in late 2006 to fund a turnaround plan -- a move that also allowed Ford to avoid the bankruptcies that snagged rivals General Motors Co and Chrysler, now controlled by Italy's Fiat SpA

Ford shares were down 2.2 percent at $13.14 on the New York Stock Exchange, while GM was off 1 percent at $28.81 and the S&P 500 was down 0.74 percent.

(Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by Dave Zimmerman)