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Vivek Kumar
Ford Motor

Ford Motor Co, an American multinational automaker, said its vehicle sales climbed 25% in the third quarter of this year, the biggest year-over-year increase since 2016, as demand gradually recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Ford and its joint ventures, Changan Ford, JMC and Ford Lio-Ho, sold 164,352 vehicles in Greater China in the third quarter. Sales of Ford, Lincoln and JMC brand vehicles achieved year-over-year growth of 12.5%, 64.8% and 38.3%, respectively, the company said.

Ford Motor shares closed 0.66% higher at $7.62 on Thursday; however, the stock is down about 20% so far this year.

Executive comments

“Ford is strengthening its sales momentum in China by building on growing consumer preference for our iconic brand and favourable product mix of luxury and near-premium utility vehicles,” said Anning Chen, president and CEO of Ford China.

“Our localization strategy to produce in China world-class Ford and Lincoln vehicles, including the newly launched Ford Explorer, Lincoln Corsair and Lincoln Aviator, has further enhanced our competitiveness in delivering the best products and services that Chinese consumers are looking for.”

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Ford Motor stock forecast

Twelve analysts forecast the average price in 12 months at $8.03 with a high forecast of $10.00 and a low forecast of $4.90. The average price target represents a 5.38% increase from the last price of $7.62. From those 12 equity analysts, four rated “Buy”, seven rated “Hold” and one rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave a base target price of $8 with a high of $12 under a bull scenario and $4 under the worst-case scenario. The investment bank gave the company an “overweight” rating. Deutsche Bank raised their stock price forecast to $9 from $8 and Benchmark introduces a price target of $10.

Several other analysts have also recently commented on the stock. Barclays lifted their price target on Ford Motor to $7 from $4 and gave the stock an “equal weight” rating in July. Nomura reiterated a “sell” rating in August. Citigroup increased their target price on shares of Ford Motor from $5.50 to $7.50 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating. At last, UBS Group increased their price target on Ford Motor to $6.70 from $4.30 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating.

Analyst view

“Auto market recovery in China – which happens to be Ford’s second-largest market- positions the firm well. The company’s efforts to strengthen product line-up, with more customer-centric products and focus on customer experiences are likely to have yielded results. These measures along with improving economic conditions in China are likely to continue the sales growth in the country, going forward,” noted equity analysts at Zacks Research.

“Ford’s focus on SUVs and trucks along with EV launches are likely to boost its long-term prospects. (But) Depressed demand for vehicles amid weak consumer confidence and elevated leverage is likely to dent Ford’s sales and earnings in the near future,” Zacks Research added.

Upside and Downside Risks

Upside: 1) More detail around restructuring actions. 2) Positive share gains in pickups, Ford’s strongest segment 3) Decomplexification actions. 4) Launch execution. 5) Further announcements around EVs or AVs – highlighted Morgan Stanley.

Downside: 1) US SAAR resiliency (2020 base case 14.0MM). 2) Further COVID-19 impacts. 3) The F-150 pickup truck loses market share. 4) Slowdown in key oil-dependent end markets. 5) Launch / Warranty issues continue to remain a problem.

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