Ford Unveils 2015 F-150 but General Motors Sweeps Awards at Detroit Auto Show

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) found its way lower during midafternoon trading, down 0.90% with 27 of 30 members in the red, as investors wait for earnings season to hit full stride. The market is still figuring out how to digest Friday's disappointing jobs report. With that in mind, it's a big day for a handful of industrial companies.

In the aerospace industry, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  )  received a new U.N. Navy contract for automated test systems. The $103 million contract authorizes two low rate production options for the initial 36 electronic Consolidated Automated Support System, or eCASS, stations and support tech. 

The Navy will use eCASS to troubleshoot and repair aircraft assemblies while at sea or ashore. The system will allow equipment to return to readiness status more quickly and efficiently and will replace the CASS equipment deployed in the early 1990s.

"eCASS runs 20 percent faster, is even more reliable, and is highly compatible with legacy CASS stations," Randy Core, director of enterprise test solutions at Lockheed Martin mission systems and training, said in a Lockheed press release. "This speed and reliability will ultimately help the Navy increase aircraft availability."

Meanwhile, the world's largest automotive show kicked off for the media today. The North American International Auto Show in Detroit expects more than 5,000 automotive journalists and analysts, as well as 750,000 people looking to catch a future glimpse of what automakers are developing.


Chevrolet's 2014 Silverado and Corvette. Photo credit: General Motors.

General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) stirred up headlines early when the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Silverado were named 2014 North American Car and Truck of the Year. The Corvette was up against the Mazda3 and Cadillac CTS for the award, while the Silverado topped the Acura MDX and Jeep Cherokee. Ford's (NYSE: F  ) all-new F-150 wasn't in the mix, as the entrants had to be introduced in 2013. This was the first time the Chevrolet brand has swept the awards, although General Motors took both honors in 2007 between its Saturn and Chevrolet brands. 

Ford's all-new 2015 F-150. Photo credit: Ford.

One of the biggest stories out there is the all-new Ford F-150 that was unveiled today. The company took fairly large risks by adding more aluminum to reduce the weight of the truck, while keeping its durability and "toughness" up to expectations. Ultimately, the truck appears to be as tougher and smarter than ever.

The 2015 F-150 dropped nearly 700 pounds and has an aluminum body, doors, and hood, while the frame remains steel just as on the current truck -- although Ford has increased the amount of high-strength steel used in the frame from 23% to 77%. Ford hasn't yet announced pricing for the 2015 truck, but most expect it to be in the same range as its predecessor: between $24,500 and $55,000. Ford's F-150 ended 2013 on a high note, selling more than 750,000 units, while the Silverado was a distant second place with 480,414 in sales. 

To optimize sales of its all-new full-size pickup Ford will need to convince consumers the addition of aluminum hasn't taken away from the F-150's performance capabilities -- this is especially important as it is the Blue Oval's most profitable vehicle. Expect the company to unleash many press releases and information to convey this message starting this week in Detroit.

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