Among Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) successes over the last half decade are that it did not fall into Chapter 11, it recruited one of the most widely regarded chief executives of the past 25 years and it held on to its spot as the number two car manufacture in the United States. One of the rewards for this is that research firm Brand Z reports that Ford’s brand value has risen 56% in the past year to $11.8 billion. Only a handful of other brands among the top 100 measured can boast an increase of even close to that much.
Among Ford‘s advantages is that it has several of the best-selling cars in American, led by the F-series pickup family, which has been in first place for almost all the past five decades. Add to that the Fusion, Escape, Focus and Explorer, and Ford has more vehicles in the top 20 than any other manufacturer.
Investors also have reason to cheer Ford’s success. Its stock has risen 189% in the past five years, nearly double the rate of the S&P 500.
Among Ford’s problems, two stand out. The first is that it has done only relatively well in recent quality surveys, but it has rarely been able to crack the top spots held by the large Japanese manufacturers. In the J.D. Power 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, Ford ranks just below average for problems per hundred vehicles.
The second is that Ford has been unable to resurrect its Lincoln premium brand. Lincoln sales cannot come close to matching those of Germany leaders Audi, Mercedes and BMW. Even Japanese luxury brands Lexus and Acura outsell it. Perhaps most disappointing for Ford, Lincoln sales fall well behind those of General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Cadillac, which has had a modest renaissance.
Ford will be remembered as the car company that worked its way through the recession. It also will be remembered for the Ford family’s brilliant move in hiring Alan Mulally, who has just retired. Ford may have modest drawbacks, but in light of its progress, they have made no real dent in its reputation.