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Ford just embarrassed the hell out of its pickup truck rivals

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

People have driven a Ford (F) truck lately.

And that — along with progress on a deep cost-cutting initiative by Ford CEO Jim Hackett — will likely leave investors encouraged on Ford’s outlook, finally.

The maker of the popular F-Series line of trucks said Tuesday it gained market share and grew revenue in its pickup truck category in the first quarter. With F-Series pickups being some of the highest margin products rolling off Ford’s assembly lines, it helped power profits in North America $300 million higher from a year ago. Strength in the equally high margin SUV category also supported Ford’s North American profits.

Ford benefited in the quarter from the introduction of the newly redesigned mid-size Ranger pickup. The momentum for Ford is a kick to the gut of rivals General Motors (GM) and Fiat, both of which released new designs for their full-size pickups last year in an effort to dethrone the F-Series. Ford plans to release a new Super Duty pickup truck before year end. An all-new F-150 will debut in 2020 along with a hybrid option.

Ford’s long-time Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks, who is retiring later this year, told Yahoo Finance the company’s transaction prices for its trucks remained near their highest levels ever in the quarter despite the greater competition.

“We are not standing on our laurels, but things look really really good in terms of the strength in the F-Series,” Shanks said.

David Ruiz polishes a fully-loaded F-450 Super Duty Limited, the biggest version of the Ford F-Series, on display at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. Buyers are increasingly outfitting their pickups with all the comforts of luxury cars, from heated and cooled seats to backup cameras to panoramic glass roofs. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Ford’s stock popped about 9% in after-hours trading Thursday on the back of the strength in the lucrative truck business. The company’s first quarter adjusted profits came in at 44 cents a share, beating Wall Street analyst forecasts for 26 cents a share.

“With a solid plan in place, we promised 2019 would be a year of action and execution for Ford, and that’s what we delivered in the first quarter,” said Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO, in a statement. “We’re pleased with the progress and the optimism that it brings.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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