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Pressure mounts on Ford CEO Jim Hackett as stock drops to 52-week low

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

A $7.89 price tag is a bargain for just about anything these days.

Including Ford Motor Company stock.

"Ford's stock is at its lowest point since the Great Recession," said John McElroy, host of "Autoline After Hours" and a longtime automotive analyst. "While this would normally put enormous pressure on CEO Jim Hackett, his recent reshuffling of the management ranks, pushing out Joe Hinrichs and promoting Jim Farley to COO, has bought him time with the board of directors. Hackett is very lucky. The Ford board seems to have the patience of Job."

Industry observers took notice when the price sunk to a 52-week low Friday after stagnating for months, even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average has hit new highs.

T.R. Reid, Ford spokesman, said the company doesn't comment on stock price.

"Our underlying business is strong. We've got exciting series of new products we're introducing this year. And I think we're establishing ourselves as a leader in the emerging era of smart vehicles -- including new forms of propulsion and connectivity," he said. "We're optimistic. We're focused, and nobody's got higher expectations for Ford than we do."


Then vs. now

Ford replaced CEO Mark Fields with Hackett in May 2017 after a dismal stock performance. And the value of Ford stock has continued to wither. Ford hovers around $8 a share. Crosstown rival General Motors has a stock price near $35.

Fields retired at age 56 from Ford after three years as CEO. On the Friday before the company released news of his departure on May 22, 2017, Ford stock closed at $10.87. Its price had declined 36% on Fields' watch, nearly three times worse than GM during the same period, according to MarketWatch.

"It's all about investor frustration with the stock performance," Efraim Levy, then an analyst with CFRA Research, told MarketWatch upon news of Fields' exit.


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