Ford’s small cars cleaning up on balance sheet

Stock analysts are predicting big gains for Ford when the automaker officially announces its first-quarter earnings tomorrow, as the company is expected to do well on the back of its fuel-efficient vehicles.

According to an average of three analysts compiled by Bloomberg, the automaker is expected to report earnings of $2.1 billion for the first quarter, which would be the largest gain to open a year since 1998. Through the first three months, the company's sales are up a reported 15.9 percent compared to 2010, due largely to rising gas costs.

"With the fuel prices moving up, we now have the vehicles that people want," Ford CEO Alan Mullaly told the news source. "The largest vehicles are slowing down a little bit, but all these smaller ones from Ford are now available."

Examples of models that have sold well during the first few months include the Explorer, one of the top SUVs in term of fuel economy, and the Fiesta hatchback, which is rated at 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

Drivers in the market for a fuel-efficient car may want to shop New Jersey State Auto Auction, which offers a wide range of used Fords and other brands. Many of the newer models can be found lightly-used and at significant discounts off their retail price.