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Following Its Worst Year Ford Starts to Turn Around

FORD Motor Company, the nation's No. 2 automaker, Wednesday reported first-quarter earnings of $338 million, or 60 cents a share - a $1.2 billion turnaround from a loss of $884 million in the first quarter of 1991.

It was Ford's first profitable quarter since the third quarter of 1990 when the automaker posted earnings of $102 million. "This is a significant step forward, but we have plenty of work ahead of us," Ford chairman Harold Poling said. "We are all very grateful for the tremendous efforts of the entire Ford team in achieving a return to profitability."

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The rebound follows Ford's worst year in history - with 1991 losses of $2.26 billion.

"A continuation of the turnaround will depend greatly on a sustained recovery in the United States and other key Ford markets," he said. "Although industry sales in the US remained weak in the first quarter, there are signs of an improving trend."

Poling said first-quarter results reflect "continued emphasis on cost reductions, offset somewhat by increased product-development costs."

Ford's worldwide automotive operations earned $85 million in the first quarter, compared with losses of $1.2 billion a year ago.

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