Wall Street skepticism about Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) got a boost as shares sold short in the company rose 7.8 million to 122.1 million for the period that ended August 15. Ford is the sixth most shorted stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange, based on total short interest.
Based on average daily trading volume of 32.6 million, the number of shares short in Ford would take four days to cover.
Ford has been off track since well before former CEO Mark Fields was fired May 22 and replaced by another Ford executive, James Hackett. Hackett is known for his innovation skills and expertise in next generation autonomous cars. His appointment has not stopped the drop in Ford’s shares. They are down 16% this year to $10.63, close to their 52-week low.
Ford has been unable to escape the anxiety that its sales are too heavily concentrated in the U.S. market and not more balanced by sales in Europe and China. Ford also has been accused of a late entrance into the autonomous and electric car businesses.
Ford’s short-term future, particularly in the United States, relies almost exclusively on its flagship F-150 full-sized pickup, the perennial top-selling vehicle in the nation. Sales of the F-series through July hit 499,327, up 8.3%. Ford’s total sales for the period were 1,493,715, down 4.3%. However, car sales dropped 20.1% for the period to 360,607. The American appetite for sport utility vehicles, pickups and crossovers is eating at one of Ford’s core businesses.
Ford is not a turnaround candidate in the short term. The company is too large, its product cycles range into the months, if not years, and the odds it can increase sales outside the United States by any meaningful amount are too much of a long shot. Ford’s chances to take a large portion of the next generation of car manufacturing are blocked because its efforts sit well behind companies that include Google, Tesla and several of the world’s largest car makers.