Ford ( F) said it earned 60 cents a share in the first quarter, excluding items, six cents a share better than analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call expected.

The automaker said worldwide vehicle sales in the first quarter were 1.8 million, off 6% from 1.9 million a year earlier. Revenue slipped 1% to $42.36 billion from $42.89 billion. Automotive earnings came in at $748 million, off from $1.55 billion a year ago. The company blamed lower unit volumes in North America compared with last year's record levels.

Ford Credit earned $406 million in the first quarter, compared with $353 million a year ago.

Yesterday, General Motors ( GM) surpassed analysts' estimates for revenue and earnings growth in the first quarter, largely due to better-than-expected results from its financing arm, General Motors Acceptance.

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