The Corner

A Profitable American Car Company?

Ford Motor Company just reported a $2.7 billion profit, making 2009 its first profitable year since 2005. Yes, the company benefited from Cash for Clunkers and a range of other government subsidies. Yes, it supported bailouts for its competitors. But you still have to respect its decision to eschew government “loans” and indeed thrive without them:

The report follows a strong month of December, during which Ford increased U.S. sales by 33% while rivals General Motors Co. and Chrysler sold even fewer cars than they did in the dismal year-earlier period.

Ford’s stock closed Wednesday up 3.2% at $11.55 and has now surged nearly 500% over the past year. Meanwhile, GM and Chrysler aren’t publicly traded anymore.

Ford is also poised to benefit from the Toyota recall.

UPDATE: A Ford employee (not a spokesman) e-mails:

Yes, Ford benefited from “Cash for Clunkers” and advocated for support for GM and Chrysler, but we operate in one of the most highly regulated industries in this country.  So when mention is made of support we receive from the government, in fairness the massive degree of legislation and regulation that we also “receive” from the government (and not just the federal government, but from all 50 states as well) should be referenced. In addition, we are one of biggest, most attractive targets of the trial bar – which with a Democratically controlled Congress functions almost as an additional arm of the government.

I am not whining or complaining, just concerned that people lose sight of how endless government regulation makes our profit achievement in 2009 even more remarkable!

This employee didn’t mention, and I forgot to, that Ford was also put in the difficult spot of negotiating with a labor union that now owns one competitor (about 65 percent of Chrysler) and has a large stake in another (17.5 percent of GM).

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