Ford Motor

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Riding on strong sales of the Fiesta and a redesigned Taurus, Ford turned in its best annual profit since 1999 last year.In the U.S., CEO Alan Mulally shuttered Ford’s Mercury division, completed the sale of Volvo, divested its Mazda shares, and saw sales jump 17%. Next up: a big boost to Lincoln — Ford’s last premium brand — as seven new models are planned in the next four years. Outside the U.S., the automaker delivered robust sales in India, Russia, and Eastern Europe.

After trading as low as $1.43 a year ago, Ford shares are now around $15. —P.N.

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General Motors

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Bailed out and buffed up, GM emerged from bankruptcy with a $20 billion public offering in November, the largest IPO in U.S. history. Early results look good: The automaker posted its first annual profit in six years.Daniel Akerson, GM’s fourth CEO since the government’s $50 billion rescue three years ago, plans to focus on four major brands — Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC. The goal is to cut inventory, close plants and dealerships, and otherwise improve efficiency. One sign of success: Its latest model, the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. —P.N.

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