What's happening

Shares of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) were sharply higher on Friday morning after Ford reported first-quarter earnings that came in well ahead of Wall Street's expectations, showing that its ongoing restructuring efforts are beginning to pay off.

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT, Ford's shares were trading at $10.39, up 10.5% from Thursday's closing price.

A silver 2019 Ford Transit Connect, a small commercial van.

Ford's efforts to boost sales of high-margin commercial vehicles helped boost its results in the first quarter. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

So what

For the last several quarters, Ford investors have waited to see fruits of what CEO Jim Hackett has called a fundamental "redesign" of the company's global business. That wait ended when Ford reported its first-quarter results after the markets closed on Thursday. Excluding a series of one-time charges, most related to restructuring, Ford earned $0.44 per share in the first quarter -- enough to blow right past Wall Street's $0.26-per-share estimate.

Cost gains and product-line shuffles helped ease losses in China and South America and returned Ford Europe to profitability after three money-losing quarters. And in North America, good sales of pickups and commercial vehicles (and a decline in lower-margin sedan sales) helped Ford deliver a regional operating margin of 8.7%, up from 7.8% in the first quarter of 2018.

Now what

Ford still has a lot of work to do, of course. And some of the work will be (and has been) expensive: Ford took $514 million in one-time charges related to restructuring in South America and Europe in the first quarter, and CFO Bob Shanks warned investors that restructuring-related one-time charges will total at least $3 billion by the end of 2019.

But investors were cheered by the results to date and by Ford's growing confidence: The Blue Oval has a slew of new products headed to market over the next few quarters, and Shanks said Ford now believes that its full-year results in 2019 will improve on 2018's.

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