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Cramer’s One-on-One with Ford CEO Mulally

Tuesday, 7 Jun 2011 | 6:44 PM ET

Now is the time to accelerate the introduction of Ford vehicles into the Asia-Pacific region, CEO Alan Mulally told Cramer Tuesday.

Ford's Mulally Speaks to Cramer
Ford CEO Alan Mulally tells Mad Money host Jim Cramer whether there is real competition in the marketplace. "We're going to keep a laser focus on our balance sheet," he adds.

Mulally joined the “Mad Money” host immediately after an investor meeting, where he laid out the automaker’s plans to cut debt and increase sales by 50 percent by mid-decade. That sales growth is expected to be driven largely by the company’s expansion in China and India.

Mulally told Cramer that he first wanted to make sure Ford’s operations in Europe and the Americas were profitable before turning his attention to the Asia-Pacific region.

”This is the first time in many, many years where Ford has been growing,” the CEO said. “We announced that we were going to hire 7,000 new employees over the next two years. We’re increasing our production based on the strength of the products.”

The company has now moved to a balanced portfolio around the world and a balanced portfolio of small, medium and large vehicles, he added.

Mulally is also cleaning up Ford’s balance sheet, and plans to pay down another $3.1 billion in debt. That will bring its total to about $14 billion. He’s set a target of $10 billion in debt by the middle of the decade. Those loans helped make Ford the only major U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy and a government bailout.

“Now we have fundamentally the simplest balance sheet that we have ever had,” he said.

Despite the rosy outlook, the stock barely budged on the news. In fact, Ford has been crushed since it reported its weaker than expected fourth quarter back in January, and gas prices aren’t helping.

“It seems like people have forgotten that this is one of the great turnaround stories of the era,” Cramer said, “and that gives you a reason to like the stock even if the economy’s not doing as well as we’d thought a few months ago.”

— Reuters contributed to this article

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