Ford investors 'want some comfort' from CEO Jim Hackett as shares drop to six-year low

Key Points
  • Ford's shares slid below $9 for the first time in more than six years.
  • Analysts said investors want more information on CEO Jim Hackett's restructuring plan.
Ford Motor Company president and CEO James Hackett
Rebecca Cook | Reuters

The selloff at Ford is gaining momentum.

The automaker's shares fell 3.4 percent Tuesday to close at $8.95, finishing the day under $9 for the first time since August of 2012. The stock is down more than 28 percent so far this year.

While analysts give a host of reasons for Ford's slide, the single biggest factor is the uncertainty surround CEO Jim Hackett's plan to restructure the Detroit company. Hackett and his management team have yet to disclose exactly how they will re-shape the automaker, though it will clearly be a leaner and more focused company.

"There's still a lot of uncertainty about Hackett's plan and vision," said Dave Whiston, an auto analyst with Morningstar.

Pressure has been building on Ford ever since the company reported lackluster earnings for the second quarter and announced it would postpone an analyst meeting in September. That meeting is when Hackett was widely expected to roll out details about the restructuring.

Ford planning cuts to workforce

Meanwhile, Ford is telling employees it will be cutting its salaried workforce of roughly 70,000 people worldwide. Exactly how many white collar employees will be let go is unclear.

"We are in the early stages of reorganizing our global salaried workforce to support the company's strategic objectives, create a more dynamic and empowering work environment, and become more fit as a business," Ford said in a statement to CNBC. "The reorganization will result in headcount reduction over time and this will vary based on team and location."

Garrett Nelson, auto analyst with CFRA Research said he's frustrated by the lack of information. "There's really no visibility about their strategy," said Nelson, who has a hold rating on Ford with a $9 price target. "There are also no real catalysts on the horizon."

Instead there are a host of questions which cloud how analysts and investors view the automaker. Will the company be forced to cut its dividend? Ford's CFO Bob Shanks has repeatedly said that is not in consideration.

What will happen with Ford's overseas operations which are struggling? Can Ford show earnings growth and improved cash flow even though the auto industry appears to be late in this current sales cycle?

Whiston summed up the situation saying, "Investors want some comfort Ford is going in the right direction."

Questions? Comments? .