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Ford turns profit, but investors worry

US sales climbed 37 percent for Ford in part because of an increase in corporate, government, and daily rental sales. US sales climbed 37 percent for Ford in part because of an increase in corporate, government, and daily rental sales.
(Toby Talbot/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / April 28, 2010

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DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. earned $2.1 billion in the first quarter as the economic clouds parted and consumers grew confident enough to buy cars again. But the confidence didn’t extend to investors, who pushed Ford’s shares down yesterday on concerns that the automaker’s recovery isn’t sustainable.

The profit of 50 cents per share was Ford’s fourth straight positive quarter. It’s an about-face from the same period last year, when Ford lost $1.4 billion, or 60 cents per share. Ford said it expects to be solidly profitable this year, a year earlier than its previous guidance.

But investors worried that the company can’t maintain its strong gains in the second half of the year. Ford’s first-quarter US market share made its biggest jump in 33 years, for example, and is unlikely to keep growing at that pace. Ford also faces higher prices for steel and other raw materials, rising interest rates and expected weaker European demand.

Ford’s first-quarter revenue rose 15 percent to $28.1 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected $30.5 billion.