Shares of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) are down sharply today. A disappointing second-quarter earnings report, lowered full-year profit expectations, and a continued lack of information about Ford's future led key analysts to express some big concerns about the Blue Oval's current leadership.
As of 2 p.m. EDT, Ford's share price was down about 5.3% from Wednesday's close.
It's probably simpler to sum up the good news from Ford's second-quarter earnings report, which was announced Wednesday afternoon: Sales of high-profit Ford pickups and SUVs in the United States are still strong.
Elsewhere, things weren't so good. Months of sales declines in China have essentially wiped out what used to be steady quarterly profits from Ford's joint ventures with Chinese automakers. In South America, good gains from an ongoing restructuring effort were cancelled out by the effects of currency devaluations in Brazil and Argentina. And in Europe, Ford posted a surprising loss -- surprising because Ford's sales in Europe have been strong, and Ford hadn't given any warning that its profit was at risk.
Ford cut its full-year guidance on those China and (surprising) Europe concerns. But that wasn't all. Ford also said its ongoing project of refocusing its efforts on high-profit business lines will come with a steep price tag: $11 billion over the next 3 to 5 years.
We don't know what Ford is buying with all that money, and that has become a problem.
It has been more than a year since Jim Hackett took over as Ford's CEO, and he has yet to explain his restructuring plan to investors. The company had scheduled an investor briefing for September, raising hopes that we might finally see the plan -- but yesterday's news included a note that Ford is indefinitely postponing that briefing.
The ongoing lack of detail has been a source of frustration for Wall Street analysts and the cancelled meeting felt like a last straw. Several big-name analysts bluntly expressed concern during the conference call -- and in notes on Thursday.
Simply put, Ford -- and particularly, CEO Jim Hackett and global markets chief Jim Farley -- have some explaining to do. Ford is still a strong, profitable company, and there's still a lot here for investors to like. But after Wednesday's earnings report, some investors are starting to get the feeling that the wheels might be coming off of Ford's success story.
If Ford wants to make the case otherwise -- and it should -- now is the time.