What a busy week for the folks at the Blue Oval. As much as we all cheer for the weekend to get here faster, Ford (NYSE: F ) may want this week to continue considering all the great news flowing through the press room. Let's take a look at this week's key events.
Let's kick things off with the first press release this week regarding improved sales here at home in the U.S. market. On Wednesday Ford reported its August sales were up 12% compared to last year, beating analyst estimates. Ford's overall numbers were slowed from a dip in commercial fleet sales, but its retail sales were up an impressive 20% -- good enough for its best retail sales since August 2006.
Two important highlights for sales in the U.S. were from Ford's F-Series and Fusion models. Firstly, the F-Series sales topped 70,000 units sold for the second time this year; something it hasn't done twice in a year since 2006. Ford considers anything above 50,000 a solid month, see this year's impressive results below.
Secondly, sales of the Fusion has taken a breather over the last month or two because of inventory constraints. While nobody wants to lose sales because of lacking supply, it has enabled the Fusion to sell at a $1,176 premium to the industry average and a $2,378 premium to the market-leading Toyota Camry. Sales in the U.S. weren't the only highlight this week as success was exported overseas.
Thursday Ford announced that it set a fourth consecutive monthly record for sales in China, increasing sales over last year by 46% to 71,000 wholesale units in August. Year-to-date sales are even more impressive, up 50% versus last year to over 551,000.
One big driver of the sales gains was Ford's Focus. Ford's champion car in the region witnessed its sales rise 62% year-to-date to nearly 250,000 wholesale units sold. As Ford continues its march to double its market share to 6% by 2015 the company will need other vehicles to reach similar sales. Fortunately Ford plans to launch 15 models by mid-decade and will surely have more big winners.
Since we're running out of regions to post data from, let's switch gears to a different segment: electrified vehicles. Ford announced Thursday that it delivered its best August in electrified vehicle sales with over 8,292 sales – a 288% increase over last year. Ford's C-MAX Hybrid has been a key driver in sales recently, and nearly two-thirds of the sales come from consumers trading in other car brands – the top two being Toyota's Prius and Honda's CR-V.
One last thing
As I mentioned, it's been a solid week for folks at the Blue Oval, but there's one last newsworthy headline for investors. S&P increased Ford to BBB-, or investment grade, and was the last major ratings company to do so. Bob Shanks, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Ford, had this to say.
"The fact that we are now rated investment grade by all four major ratings agencies is further evidence of the continued progress the Ford team is making delivering our One Ford plan. Our plan is to maintain investment grade throughout an economic cycle. All of us at Ford remain laser focused on our One Ford plan to deliver profitable growth for all."
Crosstown rival General Motors (NYSE: GM ) still has work to do to attain investment grade ratings, but has a chance to do so over the next year as Detroit automakers are reaping profits not seen in a decade. For Ford, this was just another great week in what looks to be a bright future, and it remains one of my favorite investments.
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