Ford Motor Company has reported a fourth quarter profit for 2009 that helped the Dearborn, MI-based automaker end the last fiscal year in the black, its first yearly profit in about four years. While Ford's 2009 Q4 income was $868 million versus a loss of $5.9 billion the year prior, the effect on the year as a whole put $2.7 billion in the automaker's pockets versus a loss of $14.8 billion in 2008. What's more, Ford's Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth forecasts a profitable 2010 and raised the company's outlook in 2011 from "break-even or better" to "solidly profitable."

Booth did caution that much of last year's profit had to do with debt restructuring, but Ford also lowered its structural costs in Q4 by $500 million and $5.1 billion for all of 2009, which also beat the company's own goal of a $4 billion reduction.

While financial numbers are difficult to understand and even harder to explain, there is one thing Ford announced that we're sure everyone can understand. The company will raise its first quarter production levels in North America by 20,000 units, from 550,000 to 570,000. This will help Ford meet rising demand for its cars and trucks and keep inventory hovering around a 60-day supply, the industry standard.

[Source: Ford, Automotive News - sub. req. | Image: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty]