Ford Motor Company had a first quarter that was much better than analysts expected. It recorded in its ledger a net income of $100 million, which compares favorably to the $282 million it lost during the same quarter last year. Revenue fell 8% to $39.4 billion, but that doesn't include the sale of Jaguar / Land Rover. Of course, market's outside the U.S. are what helped Ford the most, with South America, Ford Europe and the Asia Pacific Africa regions all contributing to the cause. But Ford's home market in North America didn't do as much damage to the bottom line as analysts thought it would. Here in the U.S., Ford reported a pre-tax loss of $45 million, which is a major improvement over the $613 million lost last year. Most of that improvement is due to cost-cutting measures that saved the automaker $1.2 billion and includes not only reducing the volume of cars produced, but also reducing the workforce. Ford has already offered buyouts to 54,000 UAW workers, and going forward plans to offer targeted buyouts to specific plants and workers building specific vehicles. Ford also shaved 20,000 vehicles off of the total number of vehicles it plans to build in Q2 2008, bringing the number down to 710,000 or 101,000 fewer cars than Q2 2007.

Ford is clearly prepared to shrink its way to profitability, and that's fine as long as the fewer vehicles it does build connect with consumers. Just like GM's strategy is to dig itself out of a fiscal hole on the popularity of new products, so must Ford wow us with some incredible cars. The Flex, 2010 Mustang, Fiesta, next-gen Focus, redesigned Taurus... you're on.

[Source: Reuters]