Why Ford's Lower Profits Are Actually A Good Sign

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1st Gear: The Stock Market Disagrees

It was "Investor Day" at Ford yesterday and, if you were an investor, you may not have heard what you wanted to hear as The Detroit News reports:

Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said at the company’s investor day that Ford will miss its original goal of between $7 billion-$8 billion in pretax profits this year. He said the Dearborn automaker now expects to make $6 billion in pretax profit, after subtracting $1 billion in warranty costs from recalls, as well as added costs from 23 new global vehicle launches and higher-than-expected losses in South America and Europe because of financial and geopolitical turmoil.


Great news there (well, other than recall costs). Why?

Ford has historically operated at a higher margin than other U.S. automakers, so the drop isn't going to imperil them in any real way. Also, you know, thy have tons of cash.

Ford is launching a ton of new vehicles, including a new Mustang that will be a global player and an F-150 — the company's biggest cash cow.

Ford needs to expand into other markets and, while South America, Europe, and Russia have been sketchball, China has been great for the company and all of those markets should rebound at some level.


They admitted that Lincoln isn't going to turnaround in one year and they're playing the long game.

2nd Gear: Ford To Reach 9.4 Million Vehicles By 2020


And the other thing that Ford mentioned at "Investor Day" is their plan to hit 9.4 million vehicles by the end of the decade, compared to about 6.2 million last year according to Reuters.


Normally, the announcement of a huge sales goal (in this case about a 50% increase) is usually met with skepticism here as the pursuit of the goal means you lose what makes you great.

But 9.4 million isn't a huge number compared to some automakers and that probably includes a big increase in Chinese sales.


3rd Gear: America Loves Diesel... Trucks


Yeah buddy, Ram is about to increase product of the EcoDiesel from 10% of its lineup to a whopping 20% overall. That's a lot of diesels.

Per Brent Snavely:

So far this year Ram sales are increasing faster than competing pickups, and the diesel engine option is helping fuel those sales. Ram 1500 sales are up 21% through August while Ford's F-150 has slipped 0.4% and Chevrolet Silverado sales has edged up 1%.


According to Chrysler, 60% of all Ram 1500 EcoDiesel buyers previously owned a pickup truck made by a competitor.


Excuse me while I go play around with a configurator...

4th Gear: GM Needs A Strategy

Decides to online configure his own Ram EcoDiesel then remembers he forgot to finish TMS...


Um, yeah, so GM needs a strategy and they have a strategy, damnit. They're going to move past those pesky recalls and start being tough.

From the WSJ:

"In the past...I was too nice," she says. At a meeting with GM's top 300 executives earlier this month in a converted warehouse in Detroit, Ms. Barra told managers they could no longer confuse steady progress with winning. GM, she said, must do what it takes to be "the world's most valued automotive company," a measure that includes customer satisfaction, quality and financial results.

"If you're not in line with this vision," Ms. Barra says she told the group, "you don't need to be here." Her remarks on Wednesday will revolve around the mission of growing GM's value.


The key to that is not more car sales, but better margins (like Ford!), and better entry-level and midsize sedans. We'll see...

5th Gear: Way To Bum Us Out Before Paris


The Paris Motor Show is this week and... Bloomberg is here to bum us out before it even starts with the reality that Europe is better but still not great.

“The outlook for Europe on the whole is darkening,” said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. The slowing growth and prospects for renewed declines in the second half “make me wonder if European car demand will manage to be positive for the year as a whole.”


Womp... womp....

Reverse: A Sad Day

At 5:45 PM on this day in 1955, 24-year-old actor James Dean is killed in Cholame, California, when the Porsche he is driving hits a Ford Tudor sedan at an intersection. The driver of the other car, 23-year-old California Polytechnic State University student Donald Turnupseed, was dazed but mostly uninjured; Dean’s passenger, German Porsche mechanic Rolf Wütherich was badly injured but survived. Only one of Dean’s movies, “East of Eden,” had been released at the time of his death (“Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant” opened shortly afterward), but he was already on his way to superstardom—and the crash made him a legend.




Neutral: Would you invest in Ford? Stock is down, do you think it's going to go back up?

Photo Credit: AP

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