As Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)’s fortunes continue to rise, the likelihood of the automaker holding onto its Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally fall. Mulally, formerly of Boeing, is believed to be one of the frontrunners, if not the front runner to take over the reins at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). The Ford CEO still has a house in the area and what better way to move “home?” Before he leaves, however, it’s important to acknowledge the fine job that he’s done with the company and the value of the company itself.

Alan Mulally ford

Ford’s sales improvement

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)’s market level is nearing levels not seen since the end of the last millennium. Ford has now seen 17 straight quarters of profit even as the automaker has moved away from its core market, sales of trucks and SUVs in developed nations.

For much of yesterday, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) traded at a market capitalization of more than $70 billion, a level it has closed at only three times in the last 14 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That left the second-largest U.S. automaker within about $6 billion of its peak valuation in May 1999. In contrast, while Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM)’s market capitalization is over $250 billion, it remains $30 billion away from its peak numbers.

“Not only is Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) challenging their own previous peak and are closer to it than Toyota, but Ford is competing with Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) the way it wasn’t before,” Kevin Tynan, an auto analyst for Bloomberg Industries in Skillman, New Jersey, said by telephone. “It’s a competitive landscape that Toyota really hasn’t had to deal with in maybe 15 years.”

Ford’s future still bright

Despite what’s believed to be an imminent departure of its CEO, analysts are not losing faith in the company as it’s a widely-held belief that Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has the talent behind the CEO to move forward if and when Mulally departs in 2014.

“It’s either going to be now or later, but there’s going to be a leadership change, and we feel pretty confident that the bench he has behind him has the expertise to run the business,” said Michael Razewski, a principal at Douglas C. Lane & Associates, which oversees $3.4 billion, including Ford shares.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is presently trading in the neighborhood of $17 per share, compared to just five years ago when the stock closed at an all-time low of $1.26.

Sales in China and Europe

Ford is even beginning to show a profit oversees as Mulally’s broader lineup is appealing to consumers worldwide. This includes impressive sales of Focus compact cars in China and B-Max vans in Europe.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) even earned a rare quarterly profit from its overseas operations on rising demand for the aforementioned vehicles.

“The company is a completely different company,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks, 60, said yesterday by telephone. “In 1999, we were still very much a collection of regional companies. We weren’t known for fuel efficiency or technology. We were largely a North Atlantic company. It’s just so many things that are not the Ford of today.”

And Ford is really working to positively work on its margins.

Improved margin performance

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)’s improved margin performance “is all explained by the operations outside of North America,” Shanks said yesterday on a conference call with analysts and reporters. “You can see the power and the opportunity that we have as we continue to gain traction.”

While Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) is still the king of the hill, Mulally is driving an F-150 up that hill and there is true value in the bed of that truck.