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JP Morgan cuts Ford to 'underweight'


NEW YORK -- J.P. Morgan Securities on Thursday cut Ford Motor Co. to "underweight" from "overweight," saying the automaker's product mix was deteriorating faster than the brokerage previously expected.

The brokerage said 2006 fleet sales were rising faster than expected, but Ford was losing notable volumes in the market for high-profit, mid-to-large SUVs.

J.P. Morgan expects Ford's F-150 pickup to face increased pressure in the large pickup segment in 2007 from General Motors' redesigned GMT900 series pickups -- the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Cost-cutting potential at Ford remains interesting, the brokerage said but added that it was disappointed by a relative lack of detail in the company's recently announced restructuring plan.

"(Ford America's operations president) Mark Fields' initiatives hold promise on the product front ... but he seems unlikely to be able to notably influence Ford's near-term product cadence," analyst Himanshu Patel said in a note.

J.P. Morgan also cut its earnigns estimate on Ford to 50 cents a share from $1.15 for 2006 and to 60 cents a share from $1.00 for 2007.
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