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If you read about the economy at all you've probably heard that we're in a tentative recovery, but for Ford there's nothing tentative about it. The company posted its best annual profit since 1998 on Friday.

Ford's been a bit ahead of the curve throughout the recent economic unpleasantness, even during the hardest parts of the downturn. The car maker's big profits came not from the bailout that aided Chrysler and General Motors (and that Ford managed to avoid) but from a one-time tax benefit it got back in 2006, when it was struggling before the U.S. economy took a nose dive. Ford posted a net profit of $20.2 billion last year, up from $6.6 billion a year earlier. That's a huge jump, and it comes in large part because of an accounting adjustment the company made in the fourth quarter.

We'll let The Wall Street Journal explain: "The tax bump of $12.4 billion came from Ford's decision to reverse a valuation allowance it made against deferred tax assets in 2006 when the company was in the midst of four years of operating losses amid falling automotive sales in the U.S. As dictated by accounting rules, Ford must remove the valuation once it enters what it deems to be a period of profitability." Exactly.

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