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Ford Motor

(F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report

this morning said it had net income of $888 million, or 53 cents a diluted share, in the third quarter. That compares to $959 million, or 78 cents a diluted share, in the year-ago period.

The 15 analysts polled by

First Call/Thompson Financial

had expected Ford to earn an average of 50 cents a share.

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Ford blamed the downturn in income on the

Firestone tire recall that has hit the company and said that, without the recall, profits would have been a record in the third quarter.

Ford said its worldwide vehicle sales were 1.7 million, up 3% compared with the 1.6 million sales in 1999.

Ford Credit, the company's finance arm, earned $386 million in the third quarter, up $69 million, or 22%, from a year ago. And



, the car rental company in which Ford owns a stake, earned $143 million compared with $139 million a year ago.