There's many reasons to be optimistic as a Ford (NYSE: F ) investor, even after the recent run up from $9 a share to nearly $17. June had the highest seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, in over five years and with a gradually improving economy some analysts have raised their SAAR estimates for the next couple of years – a great sign for automotive sales. Ford has become America's champion for not taking a taxpayer-fueled bailout, as crosstown rivals General Motors (NYSE: GM ) and Chrysler did, but there are many more reasons to love Ford as an investment. Here are two great ones.
Let's first make it clear that Ford is years ahead of GM in terms of consolidating platforms, operating margins, and profitability in North America. GM's is years ahead with its global reaching vehicle portfolio, luxury lineup, and top-line revenues. Ford's strength in its bottom line allows it to make more profit off less vehicles sold. Each company would like to improve on their weaknesses, and what better way for Ford to accomplish that than to aim its new vehicles toward the fastest-growing segments – something Ford has named the "Super Segment".
"Our gains for the Ford brand in the U.S. are driven by our new products," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas in a Ford press release. "We are absolutely committed to continuing the aggressive introduction of new products throughout our showroom."
Those new products have been largely aimed at the quickly growing super segment which is represented by the Focus, Fusion, Fiesta, and Escape. The Fusion and Escape sales are up an impressive 17.8% and 23.2% year to date versus last year. Both are selling especially well on the coasts, which has helped increase Ford's market share more than any competitor this year. Ford's success in the super segment is going to help the company boost its sales and top-line revenues. In addition to that, there's more good news.
"What's so encouraging is the quality of our share gains," said Jim Farley, executive vice president, global marketing in a Ford press release. "Customers are increasingly choosing highly equipped vehicles such as our Titanium models."
That means that in addition to growing its sales numbers, its top-line revenues will see an even bigger boost from the Titanium's higher transaction prices. The next reason to love Ford's stock is an often overlooked aspect, but it shouldn't be underestimated.
Ford Motor Credit
In case those consumers opting for the Titanium model need a little extra help to complete the purchase, Ford has just the thing: Ford Motor Credit. Ford's finance division is something its competitors largely lack, and it gives the company a very strong competitive advantage.
Ford takes on huge loans at low interest rates and then dishes them back out to consumers, much like a regular bank, at higher interest rates to make a profit. Consumers no longer have to get loans from banks; they can get them right from Ford.
Using an auto loan calculator with inputs for a 3% APR, 60 months, paying $500 a month, Ford would stand to make an additional $1,739.80 in revenue in addition to the standard transaction. That adds up quickly – for 2012 Ford Motor Credit brought in $1.7 billion of Ford's $7.7 billion pre-tax profits, a nice chunk of change.
What's more, if we see another credit crunch – which is unlikely anytime soon – Ford will already have its own stable credit line that it can lure consumers with because it would be more difficult to get loans from other banks.
Ford is already years ahead of GM and Chrysler it making its operations leaner and more profitable. Every additional point of market share, or increase in sales makes Ford a much more profitable company than its domestic counterparts. With its recent success and hit designs in the fastest-growing segments here in the U.S., you can bet Ford's profits will continue to impress in the years ahead. As that happens, expect Ford Motor Credit to improve its profitability as well – a virtuous cycle for one of America's best companies right now.
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