Ford reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter profits Thursday amid supply chain problems, even as higher car prices boosted results in North America.

Executives with the US automaker said some of the company's suppliers had been unable to deliver items due to outbreaks of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Profit margins in 2021's final quarter were also pinched by higher commodity costs, as well as elevated expenses tied to fuel and shipping, executives said.

Ford, which has also been forced to trim production due to the industry-wide semiconductor shortage, has managed these issues by steering production to their most profitable vehicles.

This strategy boosted North America, where the company reported higher revenues and operating earnings.

"Our team did a fantastic job working with partners to maximize component availability" said Chief Financial Officer John Lawler. "We allocated those volumes to in-demand new vehicles."

Ford shares fell after it reported quarterly earnings that lagged analyst expectations
Ford shares fell after it reported quarterly earnings that lagged analyst expectations GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP / JUSTIN SULLIVAN

Ford's profit came in at $12.3 billion in the fourth quarter. That figure got a huge boost from an $8.2 billion accounting gain for the company's investment in electric vehicle maker Rivian.

But excluding one-time items, profits per share lagged analyst expectations.

Revenues rose five percent to $37.7 billion, up 4.7 percent from the year-ago level.

The automaker projected 2022 operating earnings of between $11.5 billion and $12.5 billion, an increase of 15 to 25 percent over the 2021 level.

Ford forecast a 10-15 percent increase in wholesale production, implying an improving supply chain picture, even as it noted "continued variability in supplies of key components."

Shares fell 3.8 percent to $19.13 in after-hours trading.