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Pickup trucks give Ford's earnings a lift

DEARBORN, Mich. - Pickup trucks powered Ford Motor Co. (F) to record North American results in the third quarter.

Ford earned $2.7 billion in North America, up 89 percent from a year ago, largely on higher sales of its new F-150 pickup truck. Ford introduced the aluminum-sided truck last fall, but didn't reach full production at its two U.S. factories until June.

Sales of F-Series pickups -- the F-150 and its larger siblings -- reached a nine-year high, and customers paid more for them. Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said Ford was making an average of $2,000 more per F-Series truck compared to a year ago.

Ford's overall net income rose 129 percent to $1.9 billion. Its profit, of 48 cents per share, compared with a profit of 27 cents in the same quarter a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, Ford earned 45 cents per share, falling short of the 46-cent profit forecast by Wall Street, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet. Shanks said analysts had forecast a 32-percent tax rate, but Ford's rate was 33 percent for the quarter. Ford also recorded a one-time profit of $166 million with the public offering of Nemak, an aluminum supplier Ford has invested in.

The Dearborn-based automaker's overall sales rose 7 percent to 1.6 million. Sales were up in Europe, but fell in South America, the Middle East and Asia. In North America, sales jumped 16 percent.

Ford lost money in Europe, South America and the Middle East but eked out a small profit in Asia.

Ford shares fell 72 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $14.96 in early trading.

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