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01/27/2010 1:00 pm EST
Josh Levine, editor of ChangeWave Investing, says Ford is in an impressive turnaround as it gains market share and customer loyalty at the expense of GM and Chrysler.
As the only independent major US automobile manufacturer, Ford Motor (NYSE: F) has maneuvered itself into a strong position for long-term growth. The company's management made a series of astute strategic decisions during the past few years, with perhaps the most important one being taking a pass on the government bailout.
Staying independent contributed to Ford emerging as the big winner in the auto market—in both reputation and sales. Further, without a much-improved product, the company would not have accomplished in sales what it has lately.
Back in the fall, ChangeWave Alliance Research Network data was unequivocal about Ford's dominance. 41% of consumers said they were more likely to buy a Ford in the future, compared to just 8% and 3% for GM and Chrysler.
The Alliance also looked at which autos consumers owned, and compared those findings to the brands that buyers who planned to buy a car said they most likely would purchase during the next year.
The key finding was that Ford (net difference: +6) was the only US manufacturer in the plus column. Meanwhile, Chrysler (-9) and GM (-6) showed negative momentum and (unless this trend is reversed) face a significant loss of market share again this year.
[Measured by] the percentage of car buyers who said they planned to purchase the same brand they currently owned, Ford ranked third in customer loyalty among all of the major car manufacturers—only beaten by Toyota and Honda.
Ford has emerged from one of the most difficult years in US automobile industry history as the big winner among the Big Three US manufacturers—and there are clear signs of market-share momentum going forward.
Ford recently confirmed that December monthly sales were +32.8% versus the +13% Street expectation. It also reported its first full-year market share gain since 1995, with December marking the 14th time in 15 months that Ford increased retail market share.
Ford is in a terrific position to make further gains as the market recovers, and its hybrid vehicle program is just another plus. The Ford Fusion Hybrid was just named North American Car of the Year at the all-important Detroit Auto Show, and Ford plans to invest an additional $450 million in its aggressive electric vehicle plan. That will pave the way to build next-generation hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles beginning in 2012.
For Ford, the icing on the cake was having the Ford Transit Connect van win Truck of the Year during the same show. It was a sweep for Ford.
And according to ChangeWave's chief technical analyst Sam Collins, [Ford’s] long-term chart shows a major breakout with very high accumulation. The shares could easily reach $20 this year.
This is a long-term Buy. I'm raising the Buy Under to $12.50. (It closed above $11 Tuesday—Editor.)
(Disclosure: A member of the Editor’s family owns shares of Ford.)
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