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Reuters / January 23, 2004

NEW YORK -- Standard & Poor's on Friday said its outlook on No. 2 automaker Ford Motor Co. remains stable despite difficult industry fundamentals and that a downgrade is not likely over the next several years.

Even if expected earnings improvements fail to materialize, Ford's ratings are not likely to be changed as long as automotive profits and cash flow do not deteriorate significantly from expected full-year 2003 levels, S&P said in a statement.

S&P rates Ford and its finance arm "BBB-minus," one notch above junk.

Ford on Thursday had reported a wider net loss for the fourth quarter as the cost of job cuts in Europe and a restructuring of its spinoff deal with former parts arm Visteon Corp. offset improved finance and automotive results.
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