Shares of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) opened higher on Monday, as a much-anticipated restart of its U.S. and Canadian factories appeared to be going smoothly.
As of 10:15 a.m. EDT today, Ford's shares were up about 5.6% from Friday's closing price.
Monday morning marked the moment that auto investors have been anxiously awaiting, as Ford (and its Detroit rivals and their suppliers) restarted production lines after a two-month shutdown.
Ford, along with much of the rest of the auto industry in North America and elsewhere, shut down its factories in mid-March amid efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Ford's manufacturing experts and skilled workers have spent the last several weeks planning to restart those plants, with extensive new measures in place aimed at protecting workers from the virus.
With two exceptions, all of Ford's assembly plants in the U.S. and Canada were expected to restart today. Those two factories, Flat Rock in Michigan and Oakville in Ontario, will restart on May 25, Ford said.
Ford books revenue when its vehicles are shipped to dealers; with its factories idled, the company has been burning huge amounts of cash. That changed today, and that's good news. But Ford isn't out of the woods yet.
Many questions remain, but investors should focus on two big ones. First, will Ford (and its suppliers) be able to sustain production without virus outbreaks? Second, what will demand for new vehicles be like as America gradually reopens?
We'll learn a lot more on both fronts in the weeks to come.