Autos

There's a sense of urgency and crisis at Ford as stock hits 10-year low, exec says

Key Points
  • There's a sense of urgency and crisis at Ford Motor that is reminiscent of the automaker's near-bankruptcy during the Great Recession, according to executive Jim Farley.
  • Ford stock closed Tuesday at $7.23 per share – the lowest since 2009.
  • Ford, which has been criticized for its lack of transparency, will offer a "concrete plan" to investors, Farley said.
Jim Farley
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

There's a sense of urgency and crisis at Ford Motor that is reminiscent of the automaker's near-bankruptcy during the Great Recession, according to its incoming chief operating officer.

"Everyone at Ford Motor Co. knows the situation we're in," Jim Farley, a 13-year veteran of the company, told investors Wednesday at a Wolfe Research conference in New York. "I can see it on the face of my colleagues and it takes me back to about 10 years ago."

Putting a positive spin on it, Farley said such situations are when the company operates at its best with decisive actions and plans, which he will lead along with President and CEO Jim Hackett.

Farley's comments follow Ford stock closing Tuesday at $7.23 per share – the lowest closing price since 2009. The shares in morning trading Wednesday were up more than 2% to about $7.40.

Ford, according to Farley, who becomes COO effective March 1, plans to accelerate a "double transformation" aimed at restructuring the company's traditional automotive operations while entering emerging segments such as electric and autonomous vehicles.

"We have to fix a number of things," he said, citing delayed launches and the company's recent $5 billion in expenses to cover warranties. "Our warranty spending is a big opportunity for us." He said the company has a plan to address the costs without citing specific examples.

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Ford, which has been criticized for its lack of transparency, will offer a "concrete plan" with benchmarks, according to Farley. He did not disclose a time frame for the plan. The company is currently in the midst of an $11 billion global restructuring, which is expected to last through the early 2020s.

Part of those accelerated plans, Farley said, will be on growing the company's global fleet business and data analytics. He also noted building customer loyalty with better connected vehicles and new technologies, citing Tesla as a prime example.

"We have to accelerate the sense of urgency," he said. "I think it's there for natural reasons because of the stock price, our financial performance, the personnel moves we've made ... but it's not enough."

Ford earlier this month reported a $1.67 billion loss during the fourth quarter and missed Wall Street earnings expectations on increased pension contributions and higher North American warranty and labor costs. It's projected 2020 earnings of between 94 cents and $1.20 a share, or adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of between $5.6 billion and $6.6 billion, also disappointed investors.