What happened

Shares of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) are surging today, up 7.9% to $8.82 as of 11 a.m. EDT, after the automaker reported third-quarter earnings and reiterated its prior profit guidance for the full year following the close of the market on Wednesday. 

So what

Ford's third quarter actually wasn't all that great. Significant deterioration in Ford's business in China drove a 37% year-over-year decline in net earnings, and the company's $0.29 in adjusted earnings per share missed Wall Street's estimate by $0.01. 

But it could have been worse, and investors had feared that it might be. Ford's third-quarter report came in the wake of a note from influential analyst Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley that suggested Ford's profit and its dividend could be in danger. 

A silver Ford Territory, a crossover SUV designed for the Chinese market.

The all-new Ford Territory, an inexpensive midsize crossover SUV, is one key to Ford's hopes for a turnaround in China. It will launch in the first quarter of 2019, Ford said on Wednesday. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

But Ford reassured investors on both points. The company maintained its full-year profit guidance, which calls for adjusted earnings per share to come in between $1.30 and $1.50. (Through the first three quarters, Ford has earned $1.00 per share on that basis.) And both CEO Jim Hackett and CFO Bob Shanks reiterated Ford's intention to continue paying its current quarterly dividend "through the cycle," meaning through a recession -- even if it has to tap its hefty cash hoard ($23.5 billion as of Sept. 30) to do so. 

Ford also addressed another one of the concerns expressed in Jonas' note. The concern (shared by many others, including myself) is that Ford has not been forthcoming with details of its plan for restructuring the troubled parts of its business. Executives shared new details about the state of Ford's China turnaround and its European business, which has slipped to losing money after several strong quarters. 

The upshot: It appears that Ford managed to reassure Wall Street that it has a good plan in motion to revamp its business and boost margins over the next few years, while still maintaining its attractive dividend. 

Now what

As noted above, Ford maintained its full-year earnings guidance. We'll wait to see if Ford can deliver after the fourth quarter -- and to get a better sense of when we can expect things to improve in China and Europe. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.