What happened

Shares of Ford Motor (NYSE:F) were rising on Tuesday, ahead of the company's first-quarter earnings release, on reports that the automaker will try to reopen its idled factories in Europe and the United States in May. 

As of 11:15 a.m. EDT today, Ford's shares were up about 3.5% from Monday's closing price.

So what

There are three things that might be driving auto investors to bid up Ford's stock today.

First, Ford will report its first-quarter earnings after the market closes today. While the automaker has warned (in detail) that it'll post a loss of about $2 billion, investors may be hoping for some good news around the company's plans and outlook for the next few months.

A worker attaches components to a partially-assembled 2020 Explorer on the production line at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant.

Ford's new 2020 Explorer was selling well until the coronavirus shut down the company's factories. Ford -- and its investors -- are hoping to restart production in May. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

Second and third, some of that likely good news has already been reported. 

Ford confirmed this morning that it will begin reopening its idled European factories next Monday, May 4. It is implementing elaborate new safety protocols at those plants to help protect workers from the COVID-19 virus; European labor leaders have signed off on the plans. 

Lastly, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ford, General Motors (NYSE:GM), and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) are tentatively planning to reopen their U.S. factories on May 18. The United Auto Workers (UAW) labor union has yet to agree to the companies' plans, but the report -- and Ford's success in getting European labor leaders on board -- suggest that the sides are probably close to agreement.

Now what

As noted, Ford will report first-quarter earnings after the market closes today. I don't expect big surprises in the report itself, but I do expect CEO Jim Hackett and other executives to update Ford investors on plans to restart production, and on any cuts or changes the company might have made to its new-product efforts. 

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.