William Clay Ford Jr., Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) executive chairman and chairman of the board, and James P. Hackett, president and CEO, continue to have their work cut out for them. The company’s stock continues to fall.
Some investors and industry insiders believe that Ford is too far behind the innovation curve to make a strong showing in the autonomous and electric car fields. Others believe that Ford relies too much on sales its F-Series pickups, the best-selling vehicles in the United States. Still others think that Ford’s horrible results in China, the world’s largest car market, will hamper its overall performance for years. One thing is for certain. Thousands of employees will pay with their jobs for the faltering turnaround.
The Detroit Free Press broke the story that Hackett wants a more “efficient” workforce and one in which the company’s management structure is “flattened.” Ford will not disclose the exact number of people who will be let go. However, with a workforce above 200,000, anything less than thousands of firings will not make a dent in its cost structure.
Bill Ford and Jim Hackett need to make that dent in Ford’s poor financial figures and its terrible stock price. Shares are in a flat spin, down 26% in the past year to $9.12. Among the shareholder groups that must be most vocal about the turnaround are Bill Ford’s relatives, many of whom have much of their wealth tied up in the value of the stock. At some point, the company’s 6.5% dividend yield will not be enough for some of them.
Ford has announced the areas in which its progress is most important. These include self-driving cars, electrified vehicles, better fuel economy married with lower dangerous emissions, and safer vehicles. To sum up these goals, Hackett and Ford announced:
We have always believed that freedom of movement drives human progress, which is why we aspire to be the world’s most trusted company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world. As we look to the future, we will move from reducing our impacts to contributing positively on the environment, while also making people’s lives better through greater mobility, more connectivity, less congestion and reduced emissions.
Those better lives will not include the thousands of workers Ford lets go.