Saturday, July 15, 2006

Way Forward?

Or no way? Ahhh, memories. CNNMoney (06.21.06):
"Ford Motor Co., facing deep skepticism about its turnaround strategy, rolled out its lineup of 2007 model-year vehicles Wednesday and said it was on track to meet its goal of making its North American auto business profitable by 2008 and that it remained committed to that target. Fields acknowledged that the company faces difficulties in some areas of its turnaround plan, dubbed 'Way Forward,' but said the automaker was on track overall." Ford says on track toward 2008 profitability goal
There are skeptics. "Many Wall Street analysts and investors fear that Ford's turnaround is at risk of stalling due to a weak pipeline of new vehicles and an erratic product strategy. The problem? Like we didn't know. USAToday (06.22.06):
"Like other domestic automakers, Ford in the past has relied on highly profitable SUVs and pickups to drive its North American business." Investors less than wowed by Ford's turnaround progress
Ford has admitted to following a rather confusing business strategy. According to Mark, "'We grew so dependent upon [SUV] success that we didn't look far enough beyond the horizon, tracking the trends, knowing our customers, and seeing the day when they might want something else.'" OK then. Let's look at the trends. Last June, "J.D. Power and Associates released a study showing considerable weakness in the midsize SUV segment, and noted that fewer midsize SUV owners are trading up to large SUVs, dropping from 10.5% in January to 7.4% in May." In light of this, what did Ford do? "The 2007 lineup still has plenty of large SUVs, including the redesigned Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition, which go on sale in September." Huh. Same thing it's been doing. And how well has that worked? Bloomberg (07.14.06):
"Ford Motor Co., buffeted by declining sales, shrinking margins on its most profitable vehicles and a dire need to conserve cash, may lose $3 billion in North America this year, people familiar with the company's internal projections said. The pretax loss would be almost twice the $1.6 billion Ford lost in its North American auto business last year and higher than analysts' projections of a deficit as big as $2.5 billion." Ford May Lose $3 Billion in North America, People Say
Moody's Investors Service today lowered its Ford debt rating further into junk status, citing 'considerable additional stress' on the automaker in the region." Considerable additional stress. Now that's a diplomatic way of saying Ford's in deep shit, eh? Then there's this little tidbit. When Mark was in Washington last month, he "called on lawmakers to help level the playing field with Ford's international rivals." Mark wanted the Feds "to press South Korea to lift trade barriers", claiming that "fewer than 4,000 U.S.-built vehicles were permitted to be sold in Korea while Korean brands exported 730,000 vehicles to the United States. Korea says the reason Fords don't sell in Korea is, uhhh, because no one wants to buy 'em. It appears "many Korean consumers consider most U.S. vehicles too big."


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