Ford’s stock (F) is poised to shift into overdrive if a fresh call-out from Credit Suisse is any indication.
“When we downgraded Ford early last year, our concern was that Ford was struggling in balancing the “two clocks” — near-term execution issues would ultimately limit Ford’s ability to adequately prepare for the long-term transition of the auto industry. Yet in the past year plus, we’ve seen a significant turnaround underway at Ford — it has ended its cycle of quarterly earnings disappointments, and its transition to an EV/digital world has sharply accelerated. We believe there is more opportunity ahead, as Ford can benefit not only from improving fundamentals, but more importantly changing its perception on long term positioning in EV/AV/digital,” said Credit Suisse auto analyst Dan Levy in a research note on Wednesday.
Levy jacked up his Ford price target to $20 from $15 and lifted the rating to Out-perform from Neutral. Ford’s stock rose 4% to $16 on the upgrade.
Shares of the Detroit-based auto giant have become somewhat of a recent Wall Street darling under the new leadership of CEO Jim Farley. With Farley out there hard selling the company’s pivot to electric vehicles and slashing expenses, shares have run over rival General Motors year-to-date (+81% for Ford +38% for GM).
Levy says Farley has brought Ford to the “dawn of a new era.”
“CEO Jim Farley has Ford on the right track. Ford has moved more quickly and with greater urgency (both necessary in the transition to an EV world and digital model), and we have increased confidence in the financial outlook. We believe this fundamental shift at Ford will be at the core of improving long-term perception,” Levy explained.
To that end, Farley is doing his part to create that new era for Ford.
The company said in late September it will partner with SK Innovation to invest $11.4 billion to construct two “mega-sites” — one in Tennessee and the other in Kentucky — that will build electric trucks and batteries. Ford’s portion of the investment — $7 billion — is the largest manufacturing investment in the company’s 118-year-old history.
Stanton, Tenn., will see the construction of Blue Oval City, which Ford says will aid in building an “expanded” electric-truck lineup. Currently, Ford has released the all-electric SUV called the Mach-E and soon will begin producing the all-electric F-150 Lightning. The 3,600-acre campus will cover nearly 6 square miles, at a total of $5.6 billion. It’s expected to create 6,000 jobs.
No less impressive is the other mega-campus slated to open in Glendale, Ky. Dubbed BlueOvalSK Battery Park, it will be a dedicated battery manufacturing complex for Ford’s expanding roster of electric vehicles. The 1,500-acre site will cost $5.8 billion to build and create 5,000 jobs. The location is targeted to open in 2025.
Farley told Yahoo Finance Live the investment is akin to planting a major flag in the ground in its efforts to lead the EV market.
Added Levy, “Ford is accelerating its transition to EV, overcoming the narrative that legacy OEMs will be challenged in an EV world. It has shown a more holistic strategy and traction on product; the F-150 Lightning launch next spring could be a catalyst. On AV, amid greater willingness by the market to recognize the value of AV narratives, Ford’s stake in AV startup Argo could drive upside to Ford’s valuation.”
Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.
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