Ford Motor Co posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings and said it was on track to be profitable in 2010 with second half profits lower than the first half.

Ford, whose shares were up 2.6 percent in premarket trading, lowered the top end of its range for U.S. auto industry sales for 2010, while saying it expects to move from a net automotive debt position to a net cash position by the end of 2011.

Its second-quarter net profit rose to $2.6 billion from $2.26 billion in the year earlier quarter when the automaker had gains from debt reduction efforts. Earnings per share fell to 61 cents from 69 cents due to a higher outstanding share count.

Ford posted earnings of 68 cents per share from operations excluding one-time items. Analysts on average expected Ford to post a profit of 40 cents per share on that basis, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Its shares were up 31 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $12.40 in premarket trading.

(Reporting by David Bailey and Bernie Woodall; Editing by Derek Caney)