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Ford Motor Company earned $997 million US - or 29 cents per share - during the third quarter, the company says.

Ford Motor Company president Alan Mulally, left, unveils the company's low-cost compact car for India in September. The company earned nearly $1 billion US in the third quarter. (Gurinder Osan/Associated Press)

On the back of cost cuts and market share gains, it was the first quarterly profit for the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker since the first quarter of 2008.

Its key North American car and truck unit posted a pre-tax operating profit of $357 million US, its first quarterly profit since the first quarter of 2005.

"Our solid product lineup is leading the way in all markets," Ford CEO Alan Mulally said, noting the company made market share gains in Europe and North and South America.

The company didn't quantify exactly how it benefited from the U.S. cash for clunkers program, but government data shows the Ford Focus and Ford Escape were among the top five sellers in the program.
Under the program, consumers were given incentives of up to $4,500
US to trade in older vehicles and buy new cars.

Revenue was $30.9 billion US, down $800 million from the same period a year ago, Ford said.

Last week, U.S. workers overwhelmingly rejected an agreement with the United Auto Workers that would have brought Ford's labour costs in line with rivals General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

Their Canadian counterparts at four Ford plants in Ontario, however, ratified on Saturday a three-year pact that keeps the company's Canadian manufacturing footprint.

Ford was the only major North American auto producer to decline government bailout money and avoid bankruptcy protection in the past year.

With files from The Associated Press