Ford expected to report a loss, but how bad will it be?

Vain girls learn early that their beauty is enhanced by the presence of less-attractive girls. Ford (F) has been benefiting recently from the ugly prospects of its Detroit cohorts, its stock climbing from a humiliating $1.01 to the heady altitude of more than $4 a share.

Perhaps investors are reacting to the company's decision to forgo federal bailout cash, or the favorable reviews of its new product line, or the many cost-trimming moves, or its decision to pay down debt by $9.9 billion, or the the potential for the company to steal customers from GM. Tomorrow's earning report, however, might serve to remind stockholders of the fundamental problems that aren't going away soon.