What happened

Shares of Ford Motor (F 2.33%) were rising on Monday, a day before the company's scheduled first-quarter earnings report, on growing-but-cautious investor optimism about Ford's prospects for the next few months.

As of 2:00 p.m. EDT, Ford's shares were up about 4.4%.

So what

Ford is set to report its first-quarter earnings tomorrow. There won't be much drama in the report itself -- Ford has already warned, in detail, that it'll be ugly -- but investors might be anticipating some relatively good news about Ford's expectations and plans for the next few months.

Ford F-150 pickups on the production line at the company's Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

When will Ford's U.S. factories reopen? We might find out tomorrow. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

Things are tough right now, of course, but that's already baked into Ford's stock price. Most of Ford's factories outside of China have been closed since mid-March, as the COVID-19 outbreak has spread around the world. With its factories closed and very little revenue coming in, Ford has moved to borrow, raise, and conserve cash.

CFO Tim Stone said on April 13 that Ford had enough cash, about $30 billion, to hold out for at least six more months, even if its factories remain closed. The company then took the opportunity to raise an extra $8 billion via a series of bond offerings, bolstering its reserve even further.

Long story short: Ford will post a big loss for the first quarter tomorrow, but it appears to be in relatively good shape under the circumstances -- and there might be some upbeat news.

Now what

So what might the good news be? I think auto investors are expecting, or at least hoping, that Ford will tell us that its key future-product programs remain on track, that there's a plan to reopen factories in North America, and that its order book is in decent shape.

If we hear all that, then Ford investors can breathe a sigh or two of relief. If not, we'll see. Tune in tomorrow afternoon to find out.