This should have been a day to celebrate at Ford headquarters. It announced a pre-tax operating profit of $8.8 billion for 2011, its most profitable year since 1999.
Instead, the company missed earningsestimates by a nickel and investors are focusing on the company's conservative outlook for 2012. (Track Ford Stock Here)
As a result, investors are looking at Ford and wondering if the automaker has plateaued.
This is the new world Ford is facing. Its struggles with Europe (lost $190 million in '11), rising commodity costs (up $2.3 billion in '11) and a so-so profit margin (5.4% in '11 vs. 6.1% in '10) are the issues nipping at its heels. They are also some of the reasons investors look at Ford and say, "Where's the next leg of growth."