'The ship is starting to turn' for Ford, says CFO Bob Shanks

Key Points
  • The turnaround at Ford Motor is finally starting to take hold, says CFO Bob Shanks.
  • The automaker is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan and aims to slash costs by $14 billion over the next five years.
  • However, there is still a lot of work ahead, he says.
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Ford CFO Bob Shanks breaks down first-quarter earnings

The turnaround at Ford Motor is finally starting to take hold, chief financial officer Bob Shanks told CNBC on Thursday.

The automaker is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan and aims to slash costs by $14 billion over the next five years.

"The ship is starting to turn after a lot of work on the fitness of the business, rethinking the product portfolio, working on a number of alliances," Shanks said on "Closing Bell" shortly after the company released its first-quarter earnings report.

Ford saw its shares jump almost 8% on Thursday after it announced earnings that beat expectations. It pointed to strong demand for its popular pickup trucks and SUVs in North America.

People walk by a Ford Escape SUV displayed during the media day for the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China, April 16, 2019.
Aly Song | Reuters

Looking forward, Shanks said he anticipates Ford will improve on the results the company delivered last year. But he acknowledged the turnaround is far from complete.

"We have a lot of work to do. A lot of redesign of the business. We're still somewhat concerned about the external environment," said Shanks, a member of the CNBC Global CFO Council.

However, there are a lot of product launches in the hopper, he added.

On Wednesday, Ford announced it has invested $500 million in electric-truck maker Rivian to build a new battery-powered electric vehicle for the Detroit manufacturer. Shanks said the deal doesn't change the company's plans to spend $11 billion on electric vehicles through 2022.

Shanks called it a "win-win" for both companies.

"Working with a fantastic start-up like this that is looking at electrification and that part of the business with fresh eyes, we're going to learn a lot from it," he said.

Shares of Ford closed at $9.40 per share on Thursday but jumped to $10.13 in extended trading after the earnings report was released.

— CNBC's Maggie Fitzgerald contributed to this report.