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Ford Kicks in Gear with First Profitable Year Since '05

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When I talked with Ford CEO Alan Mulally 10 minutes after his company filed fourth quarter earnings, there was a tone of satisfaction in his voice.

After three years, and more than a few dicey moments, Mulally has Ford back in the black and primed for a positive growth.

"It's all coming together," Mulally told me in a quick chat Thursday morning. "We will be profitable in all areas in 2010"

Mulally is finally changing Ford's guidance and forecasting profitability for 2010. Until now, Ford was sticking with solid profitability by 2011. But after making $2.7 Billion in the last year, it's clear Ford's finished its money-losing ways.

So what's the next phase of Ford's growth?

Boosting profits and profit margins across the entire line-up, but especially on the car side. And I think Ford will get there. It has a line-up of cars that is not only spot-on in terms of design, but the cadence of new models is working for Ford. The Fiesta is the next one in show rooms, followed by the re-designed Fusion.

In addition, Ford is establishing itself as the technology leader with Sync and the upcoming MyFord systems that connect with car buyers who want to stay connected behind the wheel. So much so, they are paying up to add the features. This is all part of Ford having the content and design to get better pricing.

As Ford is surging, Toyota is stumbling.

This is creating one of those moments where Ford can and may very well win over Toyota customers.

Dealers are offering incentives to Toyota customers, and the company will take advantage of the fact it can now offer cars and trucks with quality scores every bit as good as the Japanese auto makers.

For Mulally and Ford, these are the days the company has been waiting for.

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