Motley Fool  Aug 23  Comment 
The Blue Oval said it's working on a new joint venture to build electric cars for the Chinese market. Are the U.S. and Europe next?
Motley Fool  Aug 19  Comment 
One of the automaker's important products overseas is largely responsible for its sales decline, but there are a couple of other takeaways in its July sales data.
Motley Fool  Aug 18  Comment 
With Ford trading at under seven times earnings, is it time for value investors to jump in?
Wall Street Journal  Aug 17  Comment 
Fresh into his role as Ford Motor Co.’s chief executive, Jim Hackett said the auto maker is rethinking how customers are going to want to use self-driving vehicle technology.
Insurance Journal  Aug 17  Comment 
Ford Motor Co. has agreed to pay up to $10.125 million to settle an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over alleged sex and race harassment at two Ford plants, the federal agency announced. In its...
Motley Fool  Aug 11  Comment 
It turns out that GM's CFO has a detailed answer -- and the news isn't as bad as you might think.
Motley Fool  Aug 10  Comment 
Many automakers posted sharp sales declines last month -- but on the whole, the market still looks healthy.
Motley Fool  Aug 9  Comment 
Sales were down again in July. How will Ford turn it around?
Wall Street Journal  Aug 8  Comment 
Ford Motor executive chairman Bill Ford this spring led a management shake-up to shift the company faster into electric vehicles, self-driving cars and ride-sharing services. “The role we’re in now requires us to stick our necks out,” he...


Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is the world's fifth largest automobile manufacturer by production volume.[1] The company sells vehicles under the Ford and Lincoln brands.

While Ford's domestic sales have been generally stagnant, Ford's European operations have increased share by producing many critically acclaimed vehicles well known for quality.[2][3] This difference between Ford's domestic and international operations is a result of costly US manufacturing facilities caused by high wages and expensive healthcare and retirement obligations for union labor. Therefore, improving operational efficiency and developing a more fuel efficient product offering are the centerpieces of Ford's turnaround plan. For example, Ford has cut 40,000 jobs in the past three years and closed seven factories in the past five years. [4][5] Meanwhile the company has unveiled plans to bring six of its fuel efficient models (average fuel economy of over 30 mpg) currently sold in Europe to the U.S. market.[6] In addition to answering demand for smaller cars in the short-term, Ford hopes that offering the same lineup of automobiles in all of its international markets will provide considerable economies of scale in the long-term.

Business Overview

Business Description

Automotive Sector

The company reports revenue from automobile sales in this segment. In FY 2011, this sector contributed 6.3 billion USD of pre-tax profit (about 72%).[7]

Ford sells cars and provides purchase financing worldwide. Although the company is a large global enterprise, it had historically made little effort to capitalize on potential economies of scale achievable from its size until early 2008 when CEO Alan Mulally unveiled the One Ford turnaround plan. The One Ford plan included the Global Product Development System - a method of sharing designs and development globally and between markets, with the goal of making global processes more efficient.[8] As the developing world has grown wealthier and higher energy prices have universally increased demand for better fuel economy, the company's strategy seeks to create fewer automobile models that can be sold across the globe with few modifications: coined 'world cars.' Ford's first world car was the new Ford Fiesta[9], which was engineered by Ford of Europe, but would eventually be produced and sold in the US and China.[10] Ford's future plans call for the development of many more world cars, with the idea of creating a similar vehicle offering in all of its markets worldwide.[11]

Region FY2010 worldwide wholesale unit volumes by automotive segment (in thousands)
North America 2,413
South America 489
Europe 1,573
Ford Asia Pacific and Africa 88
Volvo 0
Special Items 211
Total 5,524

Financial Services Sector

Ford reports revenue from providing financing to consumers (loans and leases for car buyers) and businesses (loans and lines of credit) in this segment. In FY 2011, this sector contributed 2.4 billion USD of pre-tax profit (about 28%).[7]

This division arranges automobile financing in 36 countries worldwide through a network of over 12,500 Auto Dealerships.[13] Ford Credit's loan portfolio shrank following the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors in 2008 (reducing sales volume and therefor loan demand).[14]

Financial Performance

FY 2011

Revenue grew +12.7% YoY to 136.3 billion USD.[15] The main contributor to revenue growth was strong North American sales, boosting Automotive Sector revenue to 128.2 billion USD (about +15% YoY). Financial services revenue declined 1.6 billion USD (about 16.5% YoY).

Earnings before tax (EBT) grew by about 463 million USD to 8.8 billion USD (+5.6% YoY); pretax margin declined about to about 6.4% (vs. 6.9% in FY 2010). [15]

Net income increased significantly to 20.2 billion USD (+208 % YoY); net margin was 14.8% (vs. 5.4% in FY 2010). The increase in net income and net margin was due to a one-time accounting item: a 12.4 billion add-back to deferred tax assets which the company had previously written down.[15] The company's net income for the year marked the third year in a row that the company generated a profit following the FY 2008 financial crisis. Perhaps in an effort to tell shareholders that the company was "back", it announced the resumption of paying quarterly dividends.[16]

Wholesale volume increased by about 382,000 vehicles (+7% YoY), and the average price per vehicle increased by about 1,530 USD to about $22,511 USD.

The company's balance sheet liquidity improved in FY 2011, reporting reporting a 9.8 billion USD net cash position vs. 1.4 billion USD in FY 2010.[15]

Key Trends and Forces

As Political Pressures for a Greener Economy Intensify, the Future of Ford's Main Sales are Centered on Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Traditionally, Ford's most profitable vehicles have been large SUVs and pickup trucks. However, volatile oil prices and political pressures for more fuel-efficient cars have taken a toll on the market for these larger vehicles. As a quick fix, Ford announced plans to retool three manufacturing facilities formerly used to produce trucks to instead make six of its more fuel efficient european models in the US (such as the Mondeo and European version of the Focus, both of which are far more efficient than Ford's current American offerings).[17] This offers the advantage of quickly bringing highly demanded fuel efficient cars to the U.S. market without having to invest the money and time to create an entirely new automobile.[18] In the longer-term, the company intends for all of its vehicles to be the leader (or co-leader) for fuel economy in any given car category. The company is also embracing lower tech solutions such as low resistance tires and 6-speed automatic transmissions that improve fuel efficiency over transmissions with fewer gears. These 6-speed transmissions allow the engine to rev at more efficient levels and improve fuel efficiency by 4-6% over the 4 and 5 speed transmissions currently installed on most Ford vehicles.[19] Ford hopes to build 98% of its vehicles with six-speed transmissions by 2012.[citation needed]

Yet as the development and production of a new car costs billions of dollars and several years to implement, Ford's efficiency campaign is both costly in itself and difficult to reverse once implemented, especially since Ford has practically exhausted its ability to borrow or sell additional assets to raise money. These investments are planned to create approximately 1,000 new jobs related to Ford's future electric vehicles, which includes battery pack assembly. Therefore, if Ford's aggressive bet on a shift to smaller cars proves wrong, or is executed poorly, the long-term viability of the company could be in question.

Ford Plans to Expand into Emerging Markets by Designing "One-Size-Fits-All" Vehicles

Ford has historically maintained a heavy North American focus, claiming that higher income U.S. consumers buy more often and tend to buy upscale. However, North America's once-significant lead on international unit sales has all but disappeared and more importantly, growth in car sales in the BRIC countries continues growing quickly.

How Ford manages to take advantage of this trend will be decisive to the company's long term growth. As discussed above, Ford's current international plan is the "One Ford" campaign, which seeks to save production and design costs by producing a single fleet of vehicles for all markets worldwide. The first fruit of this scheme is the new Ford Fiesta, which was developed by Ford Europe but is sold in all Ford's major markets.[citation needed]

Despite Refusing Government Relief, Ford Comes Out Stronger and as Lean as its Bankrupt Competitors

Ford's main advantage was that it was able to take advantage of the lenient political and economic climate meant for bankrupt US automakers while the company was operating under neither condition (bankrupt and government influence). As a result, Ford was able to "slash capacity, renegotiate healthcare, divest non-core brands, cut debt, and preserve valuable tax assets", all items that were easier to do with the US government and United Auto Workers more accepting to preserving the company rather than dealing with another bankrupt automaker.[20]

Coming out of the TARP era, Ford now has transformed itself into a concentrated and highly levered bet on the recovery of US light vehicles. Ford has realized that the future of US automobiles will not be the gas-guzzling vehicles that were produced by automakers like Hummer for GM. Rather, Ford has positioned itself to take on upcoming government challenges of increasing MPG and market desire for smaller vehicles.[21] However, other international brands, especially Honda Motor Company (HMC) and Toyota Motor (TM) have had a head start, as they did not suffer the many structural problems that the Big Three Auto Woes dealt with in the past years. Further, smaller cars may not only reduce emissions but also reduce profits; both Western Europe and Japan, two markets that desire compact and eco-friendly vehicles, are consistently one of the least profitable geographic segments for automakers. Though Ford has weathered the storm, it will continue to face greater challenges coming from the changing US market and stronger foreign competitors.


Ford continues to lose market share in the U.S., but considers this loss acceptable as it attempts to return the company to profitability, trying to become a smaller, more flexible auto company than it has traditionally been.

Dollar figures in billions
Dollar figures in billions
Dollar figures in billions


  1. OICA 2010 Global Rankings
  2. The Economist: Ford's European arm lends a hand
  3. The Auto Channel: Strong Sales of Focus, Fiesta And Commercial Vehicles Lift Ford of Europe
  4. NY Times: Ford to Make Broader Bet on Small Cars
  5. CNN: Ford executives say new models are on way
  6. CNN: Ford executives say new models are on way
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ford FY 2011 Results Presentation
  8. Ford Magazine "Speedy Delivery–Global Product Development System Defines Ford"
  9. BusinessWeek.com "Can Ford's "World Car" Bet Pay Off?"
  10. The Economist: Ford's European arm lends a hand
  11. The Economist: Ford's European arm lends a hand
  12. Ford 2010 Form 10-K, Page 47
  13. Ford Credit Press Release
  14. NY Times "Ford Sells Land Rover and Jaguar to Tata"
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Ford FY 2011 Financial Data
  16. NY Times "Ford, Feeling Secure, To Resume Dividends"
  17. WSJ: Ford Taps European Style
  18. WSJ: Ford Plans Small-Car Retooling
  19. autobloggreen: Ford introducing more six-speed transmissions
  20. Jones, Adam, et al. "Ford Motor Company, Dearborn Revolution." Morgan Stanley. October 4, 2010
  21. Ford's Big Comeback
  22. Ford 2010 Form 10-K, Page 51
  23. Ford 2010 Form 10-K, Page 51
  24. Ford 2010 Form 10-K, Page 51
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