Can Ford pull off another earnings surprise?

If Apple Inc. (AAPL) is the tech darling, Ford Motor Co. (F) is the rough equivalent among Detroit automakers. Although this may be faint praise, Ford is the only one of the Big Three to refuse a government bailout and avoid bankruptcy protection. Still, investors are expecting Ford to report a second-quarter loss tomorrow, albeit a narrower one.

The company, led the past two years by CEO Alan Mulally, has repeatedly stated that it can weather the current crisis on its own. Under Mulally, Ford raised fresh capital in 2006, sold non-core brands, reduced its automotive debt by $10 billion this year and managed to get concessions from the UAW and suppliers. Meanwhile, it concentrated on improving the quality of its vehicles and investing in hybrid cars and other technologies to meet the different consumer preferences.