Financial Performance

Ford Touts ‘Strategic Progress’ But Stock Falls 9%

Investors eager to see returns from Ford's $11 billion global restructuring plan were disappointed by its Q4 and full-year results.
Matthew HellerFebruary 5, 2020

Ford CEO James Hackett (right) and a team member with the company’s first mass-market electric car the Mustang Mach-E.

Ford Motor shares fell sharply in extended trading Tuesday as the automaker’s financial performance continued to disappoint investors eager to see returns from its $11 billion global restructuring plan.

Ford executives said they were making strategic progress in their efforts to reduce costs and focus on more profitable parts of the business but acknowledged last year’s earnings were below expectations.

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“Financially, it wasn’t OK,” CFO Tim Stone said during a discussion with reporters at Ford’s headquarters after the company released its fourth-quarter and full-year results. “Strategically…I think we made strong progress.”

CEO Jim Hackett said the company was “at a crossroads” as it executes the restructuring plan through the early-2020s. “Our leadership team is determined to return to world-class levels of operational execution,” he said.

For the fourth quarter, Ford reported that operating income declined to $485 million from $1.5 billion a year earlier while adjusted earnings per share were 12 cents, well short of analysts’ estimates of 17 cents. Revenue for the full year dropped 3% to $155.9 billion.

Ford shares dropped 9.6% to $8.30 in the extended session as the company also forecast operating profit this year of 94 cents to $1.20 per share, below analysts’ estimates of $1.30 per share.

The stock is flat for the year and down about 17% since Hackett took over as CEO in May 2017. “The company’s financial standing has continued to weaken under Mr. Hackett, who was brought in nearly three years ago to revive the automaker’s profit growth and give it a stronger vision for the future,” The Wall Street Journal said.

Ford’s earnings were hit last year by lower production volumes in North America, higher warranty costs and a bonus payout to United Auto Workers that totaled about $600 million.

As evidence of its strategic progress, Ford cited the new all-electric Mustang Mach-e and its collaborations with other manufacturers to “complement and accelerate its own capabilities in autonomous and electric vehicles.”

But Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy said Ford “must start meeting/exceeding investor expectations to reinvigorate investor interest.”