Fitch, which downgraded Ford's credit rating to junk six years ago, lifted the No. 2 U.S. automaker from BB+, the agency's highest non-investment grade rating, to BBB-, its lowest investment-grade rating. The rating outlook for both Ford and Ford Credit is stable.
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford was the only one of the nation's Big Three automakers to avoid bankruptcy in 2006, in part because of its aggressive borrowing, which climbed to $23 billion.
Since the last recession, Ford's management has been heavily focused on increasing profitability, growing liquidity, lowering debt and reducing the company's pension obligations, the ratings agency said in a statement.
Fitch believes that the work that has been accomplished has put the company in a solid position to withstand the significant cyclical and secular pressures faced by the global auto industry.
The agency cited the nearly $10 billion in cash the No. 2 U.S. automaker had on hand at the end of last year as sufficient to withstand a downturn in the global car business.
News of the upgraded lifted the price of Ford's bonds, Barron's said.
The other two U.S. credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service, still have Ford's credit rating at a non-investment grade level.
Shares closed up six cents to $11.39.