Trouble overseas dragged down Ford's first quarter profits.

As expected, Ford has announced a near-50 percent drop in first quarter income, dragged down by poor results in Europe and Asia. However, the automaker's North American operations remained a bright spot, with earnings up significantly from 2011.

Ford recorded a $2.3 billion pre-tax profit during the period, marking a decline of $544 million from the first quarter of 2011. Despite that overall backwards slide, Ford's North American pre-tax profits totaled $2.1 billion, representing a sharp $289 million improvement over Q1 of 2011. In fact, that $2.1 billion pre-tax profit is the highest recorded since Ford started reporting North America as a separate business unit in 2000.

Ford's net income fell to $1.4 billion during the quarter - from $2.6 billion the year prior - which the automaker attributes to a higher tax expense, lower operating results and increased special charges.

"Our team delivered a solid performance during the first quarter, with particularly strong results in North America, despite a challenging global external environment," Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO said in a statement. "We remain focused on investing for future growth and developing outstanding products with segment-leading quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value."

The start of 2012 marks Ford's 11th consecutive quarter of pre-tax operating profit.