Soon, the problem of boosting Ford's stock will fall to
Under Mulally, Ford underwent a massive restructuring, resumed paying a dividend and ran off a string of highly profitable quarters. While the stock has doubled from around
The stock could stay in limbo for a while. Ford has warned that pretax profit will fall to between
Analysts don't see much upside for the stock until Ford starts selling a revolutionary new aluminum-body F-150 pickup late this year. The truck, which will be 700 pounds lighter than the current version, could get close to 30 miles per gallon of gas on the highway, far better than its competition.
But Ford faces the gargantuan tasks of retooling factories to produce such a large body out of something other than steel, and of convincing skeptical buyers that an alloy version of the nation's top-selling vehicle is just as tough as the old one.
"If they can pull it off, I think it could sure be good for Ford, and that stock will take off and go," said
Many analysts say Ford's stock is now undervalued. The dividend yields just over 3 per cent per year, better than 10-year U.S. Treasury bills, and the company's balance sheet has been cleaned up. Its debt is now investment grade.
Standard & Poors analyst
For the stock to grow, many think that Fields has to move forward with Mulally's plans for key new vehicles, reverse losses in
"Ford is set up for a really nice 2015. The table's being set for a really strong performance in the U.S.,
He thinks Fields should buy back shares because they're cheap at the moment. But Whiston doesn't expect that to happen because Ford is investing in future vehicles and growth overseas.
Bradshaw, whose firm holds about 250,000 Ford shares, doesn't see any other catalysts for the stock in the near term unless the global economy picks up. But he thinks Ford stock will eventually break out of its shackles, largely because Mulally has set Fields up to succeed.
"My guess is Mulally's got the thing teed up, and he's probably got a great bench," Bradshaw said.
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