What happened

Shares of automaker Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) popped a good 6.1% in early trading Wednesday, before settling down to enjoy a more modest 3% gain as of 12:15 p.m EDT. For this, you can thank the friendly analysts at Morgan Stanley.

So what

Investment banker Morgan Stanley made a pretty shocking pronouncement this morning. After crunching the numbers over Ford's F-150 pickup truck sales, the analyst concluded that Ford's F-150 business alone is worth more than the entire Ford Motor Company is selling for these days.

50% more.

According to Morgan Stanley, every 1% increase in sales of F-150s results in about a 2% boost to the profits of Ford stock (and every 1% increase in car sales in the U.S., period, by automakers in general, is worth 3% better profits for Ford). Ford's F-150 franchise is so valuable, in fact, that the simple fact that Ford's F-150 sales grew last month, while its overall sales declined, may mean Ford's profits for the month could have gone up instead of down. Considering all of this, Morgan Stanley upgraded Ford stock two notches to "overweight" this morning and assigned the stock a $15 price target.

Ford F-150

Ford's F-150: King of the road, king of the stock market? Image source: Ford Motor Company.

Now what

Ford stock currently costs less than six times trailing earnings. Analysts who've reported their estimates to S&P Global Market Intelligence think that over the next five years, Ford will grow these earnings at only about 3% annually -- giving the stock a PEG ratio of roughly 2.0, which ordinarily might be a red flag for value investors.

Then again, with Ford paying out a monster 6.8% dividend yield right now, and Morgan Stanley making the case for Ford being undervalued based on sales of just one model out of its stable of vehicles, simple PEG analysis may be too simplistic a way to value this stock. Morgan Stanley thinks Ford shares are bargain-priced, and I agree.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.