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Ford (NYSE:F) is trading higher, nearly 8% higher, today on the back of an upgrade from Deutsche Bank.

It is hard to believe that, since the market high, marked by the S&P Global 100 ETF (NYSEARCA:IOO) in October 2007, the best performer between Ford, the Emerging Markets ETF (NYSE:EME) and the S&P Global 100 ETF (IOO) is Ford by a wide margin with a gain of 32% versus -10% (EME) and -27% (IOO).

Since the March 2009 lows, the returns are more in Ford's favor: 550% versus 94% (EME) and 68% (IOO).

How long can it last? Momentum knows, but if we study the price to sales ratio of Ford from 1970 (see below and click to enlarge) it would appear the stock runs into turbulence around 0.40 versus today's figure of 0.27. That would equate to a simplistic target of around $16.00, or about 48% higher than today's price of around $11.00.

The last time Ford was $16.00? January 2004.

Source: Google Finance

Deutsche Bank estimates that U.S. car makers will sell 12.5 million light vehicles this year and 14 million next year. That would be well below the 16-plus million they sold during each year from 2000 to 2007, but a big improvement from the estimated 10.3 million they sold last year.

Will the sales boost, if it comes, pay off for Ford stockholders? I'd love to believe so, but I'm skeptical. To the company's credit, it reduced costs impressively last year and has stripped itself of non-core brands, selling Range Rover and Jaguar to India's Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM) in 2008 and agreeing to sell Volvo to China's Geely Holding Group last month. Ford navigated the worst downturn in the car business in decades without government assistance (beyond cash perks for car buyers and artificially low interest rates), which should resonate with the nation's proud pick-up truck buyers once employment improves.

The company is expected to turn a profit this year, which would be a welcome development. Then again, analysts might misjudge just how discretionary new car purchases have become in a nation with deep debt, stagnant incomes and more cars than registered drivers - especially when today's models perform about the same as ones from 10 years ago.

Source: Smart Money

Disclosure: No positions

Source: Ford: Still Driving Higher