Alan Mulally of Ford with reporters

Ford has announced the company's single largest profit since 1998, thanks in part to a one-time tax gain. The company drew in a net income of $13.6 billion last quarter and the news marked the automaker's 11th consecutive profitable quarter. For perspective, Ford made $190 million in 2010. The company's net income was bolstered by the fact that Ford eliminated a valuation allowance against deferred tax benefits. The company created the valuation allowance in 2006 when it began reporting operating losses. Analysts reportedly see the elimination as a sign that the manufacturer expects to be profitable in coming years.

The company made $8.8 billion in profit in 2011, or $1.51 a share. That's an increase of $463 million over 2010. Even so, the company's net income missed analysts' estimates thanks in part to higher commodity costs, currency fluctuations and flooding in Thailand. The automaker spent $100 million more in commodities like steel than it projected. Those facts, combined with a deteriorating European market, helped Ford miss analyst estimates by 5 cents per share.