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Fitch restores Ford credit to investment grade

Associated Press Modified: April 24, 2012 at 9:00 am •  Published: April 24, 2012

DETROIT (AP) — The Fitch Ratings agency lifted Ford's credit rating from junk status to investment grade Tuesday, a sign that the company's recovery from near collapse is almost complete.

But Ford Motor Co. needs another agency, either Standard & Poor's or Moody's, to make the same upgrade before it can get its blue oval logo, factories and other assets out of hock.

Ford lost its investment grade status in 2005 as it was losing billions of dollars when the SUV and truck boom went bust. The company mortgaged most of its assets to borrow $23.5 billion. That allowed Ford to revamp its cars and trucks and avoid bankruptcy protection. Crosstown rivals General Motors Chrysler didn't have enough cash to make it through the 2009 economic downturn and were forced into government-funded bankruptcies

Fitch raised Ford's credit to "BBB minus" from "BB plus Tuesday. The ratings agency said that Ford's work to repair its balance sheet and improve its array of vehicles in recent years, "has put the company in a solid position to withstand the significant cyclical and secular pressures faced by the global auto industry."

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