Why Short Interest in Ford Plummeted

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In the two-week reporting period that ended September 29, short interest in Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) tumbled by 11.9% from 122.83 million shares to 108.21 million shares. About 2.8% of the company’s shares were short and days to cover rose from about three to four.

The big news from Ford during the period came on September 19 when the company revealed temporary shutdowns at North American assembly plants as Ford reduces output on several of its slow-selling cars. In addition to the company’s two Mexico-based plants, Ford will halt production at its Flat Rock, Kansas City and Michigan assembly plants.

The Kansas City plant, where Ford builds its F-150 pickups and Transit vans, is being closed for a week in order to complete repairs on more than 400,000 Transit vans that were recalled for a faulty driveshaft. Transit van sales were down about 21% for the first eight months of the year at the time of the announcement.

In addition to the Transit van line, Ford will stop production for three weeks at its Cuautitlan Fiesta line and for two weeks at its Hermosillo Fusion and Lincoln MKZ lines in Mexico.

The Flat Rock, Michigan, line where Ford builds Mustangs and Lincoln Continental sedans will be down for two weeks. The Wayne, Michigan, plant where the company assembles some Focus and C-Max models will halt production for one week.

Ford passenger car sales are down 20% for the first eight months of the year, sport utility vehicle sales are up 1.0% and truck sales are up 2.4%. Overall, Ford brand vehicle sales are down 4.4% year over year.

Closing the plants gives the company a chance to clear out its existing inventory, which had climbed to 81 days of supply in August. At the end of September, days of supply had dropped to 72.

Ford shares traded at $12.36 early Wednesday, down about 0.3% for the day, in a 52-week range of $10.47 to $13.27. The 12-month consensus price target is $11.91.