Ford CEO Alan Mulally said Thursday that the automaker should be "solidly" profitable in 2010 as it recovers from a sharp downturn in the auto industry.
Speaking to shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Delaware, Mulally said that Ford should also see "continuing improvement" into 2011.
His predictions follow four consecutive profitable quarters for Ford Motor Co., which has rebounded better than most rivals from a historic plunge in auto sales during the recession. Ford posted staggering losses in 2008 and early 2009.
"Ford has the right plan to lead us through the near-term economic and operating pressures, and continue to deliver profitable growth," Mulally said.
Mulally, 64, has led Ford since 2006, seeing it through the industry's downturn and the current recovery in auto sales.
Chairman Bill Ford said the automaker would like Mulally to stay "as long as he wants" in response to a shareholder question about whether the CEO will retire.
Ford has seized market share from rivals General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. in the past year, with well-reviewed new models. The company is also releasing new products this year, such as the Fiesta subcompact in the U.S.
But Ford's debt remains stubbornly high — $34 billion at the end of the first quarter — putting it at a disadvantage to GM and Chrysler, which shed much of their debt in bankruptcy court last year.
Ford faced questions over its investments with Goldman Sachs following government fraud charges against the bank over its packaging of mortgage securities.
Lewis Booth, Ford's chief financial officer, said Goldman accounts for less than 20 percent of Ford's investment banking business.
Finally, Bill Ford said there were no specific plans to reintroduce a dividend, saying the company was focused on strengthening its balance sheet first.
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