Looking forward to the Way Forward company's Q1 2007 report tomorrow morning, today we check the oil on investor sentiment at Ford (NYSE:F).

After the news comes out, we'll have time a-plenty to dissect it. But in these few hours before we begin obsessing over Ford's short-term progress, let's take a moment to review what investors think about it as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 26,000 investors for their views on well over 4,000 companies, Ford among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
More than 2,200 investors have submitted opinions on Ford. The verdict: Fix Or Repair Daily.

Just 52% of CAPS investors think Ford will outperform the market -- a virtual crapshoot. Worse, among our very best investors, the CAPS All-Stars, Ford's approval rating drops with a sickening thud to 37%. No surprise here: Ford gets just one star out of a possible five on CAPS. (Probably only because we don't have a zero-star option.)

Then again, that's not uncommon in Detroit:

Major Auto Manufacturers group

CAPS Rating

Toyota (NYSE:TM)


Honda (NYSE:HMC)


Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM)




DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX)


General Motors (NYSE:GM)




Wall Street vs. Main Street
Over on Wall Street, the catcalls rise to a roar. Only three out of 11 professional investors give Ford the thumbs-up -- 27% approval. Over the last 52 weeks, Ford has only underperformed the S&P 500 by a pair of percentage points.

Bull pitch
Ford fans admit that the company has problems: "Horrible sales. Declining market share. Over-dependence on gas-guzzlers." That said, by and large they think those problems are priced into the shares. What does not appear to be priced in, according to fellow Fool TMFBreakerCharly for example, is the fact that Ford is "currently trading at roughly 2X TTM free cash flow" (or rather, it was when that pitch was written in September.)

Bear pitch
Did I mention the horrible sales, declining market share, and overdependence on SUVs and pickups? I did? Then for good measure, let's throw in new challenges to Ford's dominance of the profitable light truck market coming from Toyota and Nissan, and the fact that the firm makes just a fraction of the sales of super-popular hybrid gas-electric automobiles as do Toyota and Honda.

Who said that?
To learn the identities of the wise Fools who penned these thoughts and explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, just click here.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked 192nd out of nearly 28,000 raters.