Ford: The high-risk stock is revved up for big rewards

Is Ford (F) Chief Executive Alan Mulally good or just lucky?

After Monday's quarterly results where the car maker blew away analysts' estimates and posted a surprise billion-dollar profit, who cares? The man is getting results.

Mulally, recall, successfully piloted Boeing (BA) through the turbulent times following the attacks of 9/11, so he certainly has the street cred to steer an automaker through pretty much the worst economic conditions the industry has ever faced. Why was Ford the only member of the Big Three to avoid bankruptcy and eschew supping at the taxpayer trough? Because Mulally tapped the credit markets for about $20 billion -- all the cash the company would need -- just before lending ground to a halt last year. Boy, does that look like a brilliant move in hindsight.