Ford has reported strong financial results for the first quarter of the year on the back of much higher sales – particularly in North America.

The firm reported net income of USD2.1bn for the first quarter and duly raised its forecast for the year.

The Q1 results beat analysts’ expectations and the net profit compares with a loss of US1.43bn in the same quarter of last year.

Ford’s first quarter revenue was USD28.1bn, up USD3.7bn from the same period a year ago.

Ford North America reported first quarter pre-tax operating profit of more than USD1.2bn, a USD1.9bn improvement from first quarter 2009; Ford Europe earned a pre-tax operating profit of USD107m, a USD692m improvement from a year ago.

“The Ford team around the world achieved another very solid quarter, and we are delivering profitable growth,” said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally.

“Our plan is working, and the basic engine that drives our business results – products, market share, revenue and cost structure – is performing stronger each quarter, even as the economy and vehicle demand remain relatively soft.”

Ford pointed to a number of market successes particularly higher US market share fuelled by strong sales of Fusion, F-150, Taurus and Focus. The company said that a strong response to its new vehicles drove the largest quarterly US market share gain since 1977.

It also said that sales were higher in South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific-Africa, where sales were up by 39% as the Fiesta ‘gained momentum in several markets’.

Ford said that based on improving performance, the gradually strengthening economy, and its present assumptions, it ‘now expects to deliver solid profits this year with positive Automotive operating-related cash flow’.

“We are seeing the benefits of our One Ford plan around the world,” said Lewis Booth, Ford executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“All of our business operations – North America, South America, Europe, Asia Pacific Africa and Ford Credit – were not only profitable, but also showed substantially improved results over a year ago.”