Ford Motor Co.’s credit rating was raised two levels by Moody’s Investors Service, after the automaker’s operating performance “significantly exceeded” expectations.
The upgrade in Ford’s corporate family rating to Ba2 from B1 is the fifth Moody’s has given the second-largest U.S. automaker in the last 13 months. Ford, which has $27.3 billion in automotive debt, remains two levels below investment grade. Moody’s said it has a stable outlook on Ford’s debt and its finance subsidiary, Ford Motor Credit Co.
“We believe the company is well positioned to continue generating strong earnings and cash flow through 2011, and to further strengthen its balance sheet,” J. Bruce Clark, Moody’s senior vice president, said in a statement today. “At the same time that the industry’s business practices have become more disciplined, Ford is coming to market with an exceptionally strong product portfolio.”
Since arriving from Boeing Co. in 2006, Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally has revived the automaker by expanding the namesake brand and improving quality.
The automaker, based in Dearborn, Michigan, earned $4.7 billion in the year’s first six months, its largest first-half profit since 1998. Sales of redesigned models such the Taurus and Fusion sedans helped propel Ford’s U.S. sales up 21 percent this year through September, more than twice the industrywide gain of 10 percent.
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