While Ford is being praised for posting its surprise $100 million first quarter profit, its Mazda subsidiary has shocked just as many analysts with a record profit of $1.55 billion for 2007 – up 2% on 2006’s record level. The jump in profit was on the back of a 7% jump in revenues and a 5% increase in sales (1,363,000 units) worldwide.

The carmaker is so confident that it’s predicting an even better sales result in 2008 despite rising fuel prices, unfavorable exchange rates, and shrinking demand for new cars both in the U.S. and Japan – its two single biggest markets. Mazda is expecting sales in 2008 to increase to 1.48 million units.

Last year saw the introduction of a number of crucial models in Mazda’s lineup which help to explain its strong result. Cars like the new Mazda2, Mazda6 and CX-9 are selling beyond expectation.

In the year just ended, Mitsubishi’s global operating profit more than doubled to a record $944.3 million on the back of a surge in revenue of 22% or $23.3 billion.

Honda, too, recorded a record profit for the year despite a one-time corporate tax levied on its Chinese joint venture cutting profits in the last quarter by 86%, reports The Detroit News. For the fiscal year ending March 31, Honda said strong sales and cost reduction efforts boosted profits to $5.77 billion – a 1.3% increase on last year’s result.