Ford (F 1.70%) has been a big winner this year as the company is making progress in the electric vehicle market and as profits have boomed following a rough 2020. An end to the semiconductor shortage should boost Ford, along with other automakers.
In this segment of "The Five" recorded on Nov. 23, Fool contributors Connor Allen and Jason Hall discuss why Ford is well-positioned to capitalize on improvements in the semiconductor supply chain.
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Connor Allen: Can I just say cars in general? [laughs] I think Ford is the company that I got to go with for who I think is going to benefit the most from this. What I didn't know about cars until this past month is that a car can hold up to 100 or more semiconductors within one vehicle.
Jason Hall: Bananas, isn't it?
Connor Allen: Yeah, I was blown away by that. I had no idea I was thinking just one chip for the entire car no, completely wrong. Because of this, Ford's operating margin has been a little bit compressed throughout this whole supply chain crisis. We were looking at 8% operating margin before the pandemic and before supply chain issues and now we're looking at about five percent. If this can ramp back up and production can ramp back up, we're looking at that operating margin going up. We're looking at free cash flow going up. Obviously, as cars focus more on self-driving, having more cameras, basically as cars start to look more like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), they're going to need more semiconductors and I think that Ford could be a great beneficiary of this ramp-up back with semiconductors.
Jason Hall: Well, with Ford, I think it's also getting into a venture to actually starting being involved with the design and manufacture of its own semiconductors too. There's a lot of ways that Ford is working on this. I love that Connor, I love that pick. I think for me it might be the most unappreciated of the legacy automakers in terms of its prospects. I'm super happy. You made me happy, Connor, saying that, you really did.
Connor Allen: I want one of those Ford Lightning trucks. Those are pretty sweet. Have you seen those?
Jason Hall: I put my $100 down the first day they announced the pre-orders.
Connor Allen: Did you really? That's awesome.
Jason Hall: Yeah, I did. Whether my wife actually lets me put one on the driveway is another story, we'll talk about that. [laughs] But yeah, no. Ford is definitely on the right track here, I think.