Let the record show that not every company these days is coming out with an earnings warning. Some of them are clever enough to tease investors for months with low expectations, then release good-looking mediocrity at a later date. Ford (NYSE:F) looks like one such clever beast.

Those naive enough to believe that a single company can move the entire market are thanking the firm for putting tire tracks over the reams of pessimistic headlines based on recent recantations from Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), Nortel Networks (NYSE:NT), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and others. One might even wonder whether our Foolish pessimism about the last few months of sales warnings -- which also came from competitors General Motors (NYSE:GM) and DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX) -- were completely misplaced. I don't think so.

Today's announcement speaks of third-quarter earnings, and by raising the target to a range of $0.10 to $0.15 per share, Ford is merely meeting the expectations analysts have set for quite some time. True, we at the Fool usually try not to pay too much attention to what analysts have to say, but when the legions of veteran Ford watchers expect a dime and the company's shooting for a nickel, it's probably safe to assume that the firm is lowballing so it can look like a hero further down the road. Hence today's announcement.

The seals may be barking and clapping their flippers together for now, but you're not fooling (little f) many of us, Ford. We know you and your peers do pretty good business as bankers, but what's going to happen if U.S. citizens run out of home equity to borrow against? Isn't it possible that most people already have enough new cars? Will oil shocks dampen your SUV sales? Never happen? Please. All that financing is making you look a bit desperate. And that ought to make investors sweat, too.

If Ford ever looks like a real bargain, you can bet Philip Durell will be watching from his perch at Motley Fool Inside Value . A trial is free.

Seth Jayson loves his little Ford truck, especially when it's parked and he's riding his bike instead. At the time of publication, he had positions in no firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here.