Is Ford Looking at a Breakthrough Quarter?

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickharris/

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickharris/

After years of woes — including eroding market share, decreasing profit margins, and the downgrade of its corporate bonds to junk status in 2005 — Ford (NYSE:F) may be finally standing at the beginning of a new chapter in its history. With analysts predicting that the second largest U.S. automaker will post its highest first quarter North American profit ever, the company’s comeback appears to be gaining momentum.

According to estimates made by Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, Ford probably earned a record $2.7 billion pretax profit in North America during the first three months of the year. Provided that prediction is correct, Ford’s lineup of well-received new vehicles — including the mid-size Fusion and compact Focus — was responsible for the company’s strong financial performance. Combined with renewed demand for pickups, the automaker will likely post the biggest U.S. sales gain among top automakers for the quarter.

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Ford does have some lingering problems; austerity measures in Europe have drastically reduced demand, a weakening yen has given Japanese automakers like Toyota (NYSE:TM) a boost in the United States, and its vehicles have done poorly in the luxury market. But throughout the last quarter, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company impressed both analysts and consumers with the ongoing reinvention of its cars and trucks, noted Bloomberg…