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Ford Motor (
F) gleaming best-in-breed status among Detroit automakers has worn off, the firm still looks stellar in 2013. Just five years ago, the difference between Ford and its peers was a little more stark; after all, Ford was the only one of the big three to actually avoid bankruptcy in the wake of the Great Recession. But maybe more startling has been Ford's transition to making really good cars again.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Detroit became a punch line for failing to build cars that consumers actually wanted. No more. A complete revamp across Ford's lineup has left the firm with solid reviews from auto journalists as well as customer rankings that landed the firm in the coveted top tier for initial quality. And now, with interest rates scraping along historic lows, the barriers to getting into a new car have dropped dramatically for many consumers. Ford's revamp may have been late, but it's certainly better than never.
Europe has been a big black cloud for Ford in 2013. While the firm has executed extremely well in the high volume car market here in North America, an ongoing economic crisis in the Eurozone (where Ford earns around 20% of sales) has weighed on performance. Now that the EU is showing signs of turning the corner, releasing that earnings drag could be a big catalyst this year.