Even though 2013 is taking on a slow start for shares of Ford Motor ( F), investors shouldn't discount this stock. Ford has undergone a big transformation in the past few years. The automaker was the only one of its Detroit peers to avoid bankruptcy, and it was the first to return to profitability and resume its dividend following the rebound in auto sales. >>4 Stocks Ready for Big Dividend Hikes in 2013 There's been a simple secret to Ford's success: It started making cars that consumers wanted to drive again. Since its revamp, the firm has managed to score considerable accolades from auto reviewers over initial quality and reliability, and that has resonated with potential buyers. Even though Europe remains a big black cloud for the firm, management is going forward with a plan to shore up its business across the pond as well. A decade ago, U.S. carmakers were weighed down with cumbersome brands that lacked any real diversity in their lineups - it was one of the many things that made U.S. automakers look less appealing than their foreign rivals. That's why Ford's revamp of the Lincoln marque as a standalone luxury brand is so exciting. If Lincoln can shake its reputation as an "old person's car" or high-end airport shuttle, there's considerable room for the band to compete in the lucrative luxury market. Institutions piled into Ford positions last quarter, picking up 152 million shares of the firm. That ratchets their total positions in Ford to $26.7 billion right now. To see these stocks in action, check out the Q4 2012 Institutional Buys portfolio on Stockpickr. -- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.