Ford Posts Biggest Profit Since 1998

Source: Chris Isidore / CNN Money

NEW YORK – Ford reported its best annual earnings since 1998 on Friday, making 2011 the second most profitable year in the company’s 109-year history.

But much of the profit was attributed to a non-cash gain, as it put a large tax credit from past losses on its balance sheet that will shield it from taxes in the future. Excluding that credit, the carmaker posted full-year and quarterly earnings that fell short of last year’s profit as well as analysts’ forecasts.

Shares fell 5.6% in trading immediately after the open on the earnings miss.

The company’s 2011 net income of $20.2 billion, up from $6.6 billion in 2010, was the best since 1998, when it received a large one-time gain from the sale of The Associates financial unit. About $12.4 billion of the latest profit came from the accounting gain.

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