Investors Flee as Ford CEO Pitches US Turnaround

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Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) met with its U.S. dealers in Las Vegas as it sent a team led by CEO Jim Hackett. The event was, among other things, a chance for Ford to boast about the “onslaught of new vehicles.” As the show went on, Ford’s stock continued to collapse, and more investors worried about its dividend.

The biggest news out of the meeting was that Bryan Cranston, actor and former star of TV series “Breaking Bad,” would be featured in a series of new Ford advertisements. It was not clear why he was chosen, but the commercials are part of a new turnaround pitched to the dealers as “Built Ford Proud.” The campaign will run well into next year.

Notably, the “onslaught” features “new vehicles in the hot-selling SUV and truck segments, including the Ranger pickup, which starts production this month at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, and the new Escape and Explorer on sale next year.”

Hatchett had a closed meeting with dealers, showed the new models and said three-quarters of the model line will be new by 2020.

These segments are already crowded to choking by vehicles from every car manufacturer that does business. All of these and Ford will need to fight for share in a U.S. market that has peaked at about 17 million a year. Ford will need to elbow out the competition, but it did not say which one.

Ford’s other notable announcement of the week is that it will build 1,350 of its GT model, up from 1,000, because of demand.

At about the same time the Ford dealers were meeting, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas cut his target by $4 to $10 from $14. Ford currently trades at just below $9

Ford’s stock has fallen by about a third this year. There are few buyers for Hackett’s plan to be a leader in the electric and autonomous vehicle segments. Investors are similarly unimpressed about a planned $11 billion restructuring.

New models are at the core of Ford’s U.S. turnaround, which is one few people think will come.

Correction In the original article the Morgan Stanley price target was wrong

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