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Ford UAW workers will get $7,500 profit-sharing checks

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

Ford has faced a series of challenges this year, including shortages of its new Fiesta in Europe, carbon-monoxide issues involving police vehicles, recalls and new CEO Jim Hackett facing Wall Street analysts hungry for specifics related to cost-cutting and strategies for autonomous vehicle technology and ride-sharing.

Ford has pointed to financial challenges including steel costs, the Brexit vote that split the United Kingdom from Europe and negative impacts tied to currency exchange rates.

Wall Street has failed to reward Ford this year as much as its rivals General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.

"Ford Motor Company needs to diversify its revenue stream so it's not so dependent upon the F-Series for profits," Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, said Wednesday. "Lincoln is beginning a resurgence with the Navigator and the Nautilus, but it has a long way to go in a highly competitive marketplace."

She continued, "Products like the Ranger and the Ecosport, and making hard decisions like not refreshing the Fusion, will help. They also need to continue to grow in China."

Lindland emphasized, "Autonomous vehicle strategy is an area of opportunity, but they need to focus on selling more product today, too."

A new report from the consulting firm Navigant ranked the major players in the emerging self-driving car industry in January 2018. Analysts see GM and Waymo, a Google subsidiary that partners with Fiat Chrysler, as industry leaders, while Ford, Daimler, and Volkswagen Group are strong contenders.

Stock analysts have said they're hesitant to recommend Ford stock prior to "significant capitulation of profits and restructuring actions that are needed."

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Ford stock has been generally flat, with a 52-week high of $13.48 and 52-week low of $10.47. It closed Wednesday at $12.05.

Industry executives and analysts continue to monitor federal policy for potential changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement that could affect tariffs and taxes and potentially lead to higher prices on new vehicles and fewer sales. Automakers are waiting to hear, too, whether President Donald Trump will apply tariffs to steel and aluminum imports.

"With incentives already at high levels and the truck wars heating up, Ford is setting itself up for an expensive 2018," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds. "While consumer demand for trucks and SUVs shows no signs of slowing down, attractive new entries from Ram and Chevrolet threaten to slow the F-150's hot sales streak. The investments Ford is planning in autonomy and mobility don't come cheap, which make strong sales of the company's backbone truck products even more critical to Ford's future."

Ford predicts an upswing in pricing and sales mix in 2018 because of its product launches worldwide.

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