Ford Stock Hit by CEO, China and Lack of Product

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) stock plunged and just missed a 52-week low. Investors are concerned about its lack of electric and self-driving vehicles, its disaster in China and the profound doubt about the turnaround plans of CEO Jim Hackett. Hackett reports to Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr., which further complicates how the company is run.

Ford’s fourth-quarter results were brutal, as was the company’s forecast. Revenue dropped 5% to $39.7 billion in the fourth quarter, and Ford posted a net loss of $1.7 billion for the period.

Ford and its joint venture partners in China sold 567,854 vehicles in China last year, off 26.1% compared to 2018. China is the world’s largest car market, although it had a down year in 2019. The conventional wisdom, however, is that if a global car company cannot show strong sales and revenue in China, it has no means to foster optimism about its future.

Ford’s total 2019 vehicle sales in the United States fell 3% to 2,422,698. Without good sales of its wildly popular F-Series full-sized pickup, the numbers would be worse. It accounted for 37% of sales in the region.

So far, the only Ford major advance in the electric car business is the Mustang Mach-E. It also has a driver assistance package. However, Hackett, who has been in the job for almost two years, has not delivered on his forecast for a larger fleet of cars and trucks with similar features. He has also not shown more than a small part of plans to restructure.

Investors also face the question of who runs Ford. Founding family member and executive board chair, William Clay Ford Jr., has Hackett report to him. Are Ford’s struggles Hackett’s or the executive chair’s responsibility? The question further clouds Ford’s future.

Does it matter who runs Ford now? Perhaps not so much, if results continue to nosedive.

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