Ford posts profit

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Despite a battered economy and very sluggish automotive sales, Ford Motor Co. announced today it posted a US$2.7-billion profit in 2009.

This is the first annual profit Ford has had in four years.

“While we still face significant business environment challenges ahead, 2009 was a pivotal year for Ford,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement.

As the only one of the so-called “Big Three” to avoid bankruptcy protection last year, Ford credited the profit to a few key areas.

From cost-cutting to a $696 million profit from its credit arm, the company also said strong sales from popular models like the Fusion and Escape helped pull it through last year’s doldrums.

According to the Associated Press, the profit surprised Wall Street, where some analysts had expected Ford to post a loss.

The good news continued for the employees as Ford also said it will make profit-sharing payments to U.S. hourly employees starting in March.

But despite the good news, the Michigan-based automaker still carries a debt load of over $30 billon. Because it stayed out of bankruptcy court, the company was not able to shed debt like its domestic rivals General Motors and Chrysler.

- with files from The Associated Press