When Alan Mulally took over as Ford's (NYSE:F) CEO in 2006 he knew that he had a big task ahead in turning the Blue Oval around. In the first two years, between 2006 and 2008, the company lost more than $30 billion – a ridiculous number. Yet, due to Mulally's "One Ford" vision and his executives' teamwork to cut costs and improve vehicle demand with higher-quality vehicles, Ford made a profit in 2009 – while other automakers were claiming bankruptcy. Ford continued on that path and finds itself in better shape than it's been in a decade. Let's take a look at its recent success and assess how close Ford is to achieving its goal of bringing jobs to its operations in the U.S.
Looking at the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. market this year it's quickly evident why Ford is a healthy company in hiring mode. It owns four of the nation's 15 top-selling vehicles, and its F-Series has owned the No. 1 spot for 31 years. The Escape and the Fusion both have a good chance to surpass 300,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. this year – something only the F-Series has done for Ford in the last nine years. Ford's also adding plant capacity to produce more Fusion's this fall because it's estimated to be running near or over maximum capacity.
Through June, Ford's F-Series sales – which account for the bulk of Ford's profits – are up 22% and more than 367,000 of the vehicles have been sold. The Escape and the Fusion are up 23.2% and 17.8%, respectively, representing sales of 156,626 and 161,146 in the same time period.
With all that success and an industry SAAR at 15.98 million in June – its highest point in years – it only adds confidence in the market that Ford can safely add jobs. Ford plans to hire 3,000 salaried employees for the year, which is more than previously expected. As much as 80% of them will be technical professionals; it is Ford's largest hiring of salaried professionals in 13 years.
These technical professionals will be employed for product development, manufacturing quality, and purchasing and information technology, according to Ford. "Engineers and technical professionals are in as much demand as our cars, trucks and SUVs," says Felicia Fields, Ford group vice president for human resources, in a Ford press release. "Global demand and increasing capacity in North America and Asia requires that we aggressively seek out technical professionals in order to continue our growth."
What's better, is that these 3,000 salaried employees aren't even included in the company's goal to create 12,000 hourly jobs in the U.S. by 2015. In April, Ford hired 2,000 hourly employees at its Kansas City assembly plant to make sure more production capacity was available for its profit-making F-Series truck. Last year it hired more than 6,200 hourly employees to create capacity at other plants producing newer vehicles. It's about 75% of the way to its goal of hourly job creation by 2015, and its salaried positions look to be growing healthily as well.
This is very positive for investors because Ford's second-quarter earnings report handily beat expectations on revenue and EPS. With additional hiring it only means the company is planning on continued vehicle demand and success. With Ford's most profitable products selling enough to increase its overall market share in the U.S. by more than any other full-line automaker, I think the rest of 2013 will be filled with extremely positive headlines and profits for Ford investors. Let the good times roll!