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Ford Motors Passed Wall St. Expectations

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It's becoming a habit at Ford.

Beating the street and forcing analysts to raise estimates for when the auto maker will get back in the black.

The second quarter numbersreleased today are further proof the country's #2 car company will likely be turning a profit fairly soon.

How far ahead of estimates are the Ford results?

By a long ways.

* A loss of 21 cents a share compared to the street expecting a drop of 48 cents per share.

* Revenue of $27.2 Billion is $2.5 Billion more than analysts forecasted.

* Ford ended the second quarter with $21 Billion in cash on hand while many predicted the company would be down to $19 Billion.

I could go on and on, but the point is clear: Ford is within spitting distance of getting back in the black. In typical fashion, Ford CEO Alan Mulally downplayed speculation of Ford returning to profitability when I talked with him minutes after the results came out. "We are on plan to meet our profitability and cash flow targets," said Mulally. That's his way of saying, Ford will not change guidance of turning a profit by 2011.

Wall Street isn't buying Mulally's soft sell. Watch for analysts to start predicting a profitable Ford by the 4th quarter of this year, especially if sales pick up as expected. This company is clearly in the sweet spot and has momentum.

* Daily cash burn is dropping rapidly. In the second quarter Ford burned through $11 Million per day, compared to $83.7 Million per day just three quarters ago.

* Ford is picking up market share in North America. With 16.1% share at the end of the second quarter compared to 15.5% a year ago, Ford is up while GM, Toyota and Chrysler are all down.

* With the new Taurushitting showrooms in the third quarter, Ford's product cadence is the best its been in decades. The new Taurus means Ford will have the freshest line-up of new models in showrooms if buyers come back (as many economists predict) in the second half of this year.

Considering Ford's production is already set at break-even levels, this is a company primed to ramp up profits, and to do so soon.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I'll be talking with Mulally First on CNBC during Power Lunchat 12:10.

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Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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