When Tesla delivered a rare and unexpected profit on Wednesday, investors went wild. Even some of CEO Elon Musk's harshest critics sounded surprisingly bullish.
The California carmaker's stock surged by 9.1 percent the next day and another 5 percent Friday.
Ford also reported better-than expected earnings for the third quarter, sending the shares up 9.9 percent the next day. But the celebration was short lived. The shares fell slightly on Friday as the Detroit automaker's stock continues to languish below $10 a share, in territory it hasn't seen in years.
At $991 million, Ford's profit was more than three times that of Tesla's. The electric carmaker's earnings, however, told a very different story than Ford.
CEO Elon Musk finally appears to be delivering on expectations that Tesla can revolutionize the auto industry, or at least reliably turn a profit. With Ford, analysts and investors are yet to be sold on the $11 billion grand turnaround plan first promised by Jim Hackett when he was named Ford CEO in a broad management shake-up nearly 18 months ago. Its $991 million in profit fell 37 percent from the prior year.
Following the May 2017 ouster of Mark Fields, Hackett launched what was billed as an intense, 100-day deep-dive aimed at addressing Ford's problems. Yet, as 2018 rapidly comes to a close, the former CEO of furniture-maker Steelcase has offered relatively few, and often inscrutable, indications of what he has in mind, leaving not only outsiders, but insiders at all levels, trying to understand precisely what directions he wants them to move in.
"A lot of us are asking the same question," a senior Ford executive, who asked not to be identified, told CNBC. "I just have to work on rallying my troops and hope we're all moving in the same direction