Ford (F) - Get Report boosted its second-quarter earnings guidance as a result of strength in its financial services sector.

The automaker said after the bell Wednesday that it now expects to earn 45 to 50 cents a share from continuing operations, excluding items, up from its previous forecast of 30 to 35 cents a share.

Analysts had been expecting the company to earn 42 cents a share.

In addition, Ford boosted its full-year operating earnings estimate to $1.65 to $1.75 a share from $1.50 to $1.60 a share.

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Ford said its financial services division has benefited from lower-than-anticipated credit losses, improved vehicle residual values and a continuation of the low interest rate environment.

The company had previously announced that special items, consisting primarily of disposing of noncore businesses and completing the restructuring of Ford Europe, would cut full-year 2004 earnings by about 7 to 9 cents a share.

Ford's chief executive, Bill Ford Jr., has downplayed the effect that higher interest rates may have on the automaker's profit as "limited," saying that while higher rates would hurt borrowing costs at its credit arm, the downside would be offset by the positive impact on pension and health care liabilities.