Ford Otosan booked a 57% rise in net profit to TKL195.7m (US$123.6m) in the fourth quarter, comfortably beating forecasts thanks to strong economic growth and the cheap loans that kept Turks buying cars.

Turkey recovered from recession to post growth of around 8% in 2010, while record low interest rates spurred annual loan growth of 34% – much of it in consumer loans used to buy cars, Reuters noted.

Its poll of 11 banks and brokerages showed an average forecast of fourth quarter net profit of TKL150.2m, up from TKL125m a year earlier.

Full year 2010 net profit rose to TKL504.6m, beating a forecast of TKL459.1m. Sales rose 37% to TKL7.65bn.

Ford Motor owns 41% of Ford Otosan as does Koc Holding, Turkey’s biggest company.

Reuters said analysts have predicted profit may fall in 2011, however, as the company makes major investment, even though Turkey’s economy is expected to again grow, albeit at a more moderate rate of 4.5%.

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The automaker’s product line includes the Transit Connect small van which is widely exported, including to the US.