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The Detroit Three automakers are on the road to long-term profitability after years of painful restructuring and the government-financed bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler, analysts said.

General Motors on Wednesday said it was making such solid progress that it was able to pay off 8.4 billion dollars in government loans ahead of schedule. The future of GM:

Chrysler said it was on track to break even in 2010 on an operating basis after racking up four billion dollars in losses since it emerged from bankruptcy protection in July.

And Ford, which managed to ride out the worst industry downturn in decades without resorting to a government bailout, is expected to post a first quarter profit of 31 cents a share next week after recording its first annual profit since 2005.

“They’re not completely out of the woods yet, but I think things are looking up,” said John Wolkonowicz, an analyst with IHS Global Insight.

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