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Why Shares of Ford Motor Are Down Sharply Today

By John Rosevear - Oct 24, 2019 at 12:00PM

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Earnings were okay, but the guidance wasn't.

What's happening

Shares of Ford Motor Company (F 0.25%) were trading sharply lower on Thursday after a solid third-quarter earnings report was overshadowed by a cut in full-year profit guidance.

As of 11:00 a.m. EDT, Ford's shares were down about 6.5% from Wednesday's closing price.

So what

All things considered, Ford's third-quarter earnings weren't bad. A big (and expected) one-time charge for a restructuring in India took a bite out of net income, but the underlying numbers were pretty good. Adjusted earnings per share of $0.34 beat Wall Street's estimate (and last year's result), while revenue was in line with expectations, and good truck sales kept margins solid despite tight supplies of the all-new Explorer.

A blue 2020 Ford Explorer, a seven-passenger crossover SUV.

Quality concerns have stalled the new Ford Explorer's production ramp-up -- and raised questions about CEO Jim Hackett's leadership. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

But the guidance wasn't good. Ford cut its expectations for full-year 2019 adjusted earnings per share and operating profit on growing concerns about China sales and the need for incentives in the United States. That has investors worrying about how long it will take for Ford's $11 billion restructuring to pay off -- and whether the company can maintain its shaky investment-grade credit rating in the meantime.

Now what

Wall Street seems to be losing patience with CEO Jim Hackett and his effort to "redesign" Ford's business, which has been poorly communicated and hasn't yet done much for the company's margins. A troubled launch of the crucial new Explorer SUV, a vehicle developed on Hackett's watch, has increased concerns that the ship is adrift.

I think that Hackett -- or somebody -- needs to find a way to show investors that Ford is solidly on course, and soon. If not, look out below.

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