What: Shares of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) dropped 14% in January. The Blue Oval's common stock opened the month at $13.87, and closed at $11.94 on Friday, Jan. 29.
So what: Ford was caught in a broader sell-off of auto stocks that also hit most of its key competitors' shares. Investors have expressed concern that new-vehicle sales in the U.S. may be peaking, just as China's once-roaring expansion seems to be stalling. There's also concern that established auto industry stalwarts may be at risk of "disruption" from Silicon Valley efforts to develop advanced alternatives to their products.
In recent months, Ford CEO Mark Fields has moved aggressively to address that latter concern, announcing major investments in electrified vehicles and driverless-car technology and a new initiative that could lead Ford into the ride-sharing business. But some analysts have been skeptical of Ford's efforts, suggesting that there's more talk than action.
Now what: Ford is still generating fat profits from its mix of products in North America. Economic cycles are a fact of life in the auto business, and Ford is very well positioned to get through the next major downturn in the U.S. Meanwhile, it's still generating strong profits in Asia, and its operation in Europe has recently returned to profitability.
Meanwhile, I think the threat of "disruption" is greatly overblown, at least in the near term. Silicon Valley darling Tesla Motors has yet to prove that it can generate a sustainable profit, and other potential rivals are at least several years way from building a single car -- assuming that they even try.
At current prices, Ford's dividend yield is hovering around 5% -- and it's likely to be able to sustain that dividend even if the market slumps. For long-term Ford investors, there's no big reason to sell now.