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No. 2 U.S. Automaker's Engine Revved By Positive Consumer View

Posted 12/31/2010

Ford Motor lost some of its star power on Wall Street as analysts put out their first post-IPO reviews of cross-town rival General Motors just before the New Year.

The commentary on GM, which re-entered the public markets in November, was generally upbeat in the long term. Analysts cited an improved balance sheet, strength in developing markets and rising auto sales in the U.S.

But Ford, also benefiting from increasing U.S. auto sales, isn't ready to let GM outshine it.

It's still riding high on positive consumer sentiment as the only Big Three carmaker to make it out of the recession without filing for bankruptcy. Nor did it take government bailout money.

Ford vehicle quality has improved. It's been posting a profit since mid-2009 following a huge loss in 2008.

Overtakes Toyota

As for new-car market share in the U.S., Ford stole the second-place spot from Toyota (TM), whose U.S. share dropped to 14.6% in December from 18.4% a year earlier, estimates

Edmunds puts Ford's new-car market share in December at 16.6%, up from 16.4% in November, though down from 17.4% a year earlier.

GM is still No. 1 with a 20.4% share, which was up slightly from last year's same time.

Ford has been reducing its huge debt load as well. Standard & Poor's raised Ford's credit rating two notches in August to B+ on higher profit and cash flow and a positive outlook.

"They've done everything right," said Credit Suisse analyst Christopher Ceraso. "But that doesn't leave you as much room to improve. GM has more room to improve."

Ford continues to enjoy the spoils of successful new product launches in 2009 and 2010, such as Super Duty pickups and the redesigned Ford Fusion.

Ford sales in November jumped 46% over the same time in 2009 and are 23.6% higher than in October.

Fusion sales in November rose 23% vs. the earlier year and 34% over the prior month. Large vehicles (trucks, SUVs and vans), carmakers' most profitable vehicles, rose 28% year over year.

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I don't understand the love for Government Motors by analysts. Most of the same Schmucks who ran the company into the ground remain with the company save for Wagoner and Heir Yutz. These are also the same upper managment idiots who continue to half-step their product development allowing details in their new cars to go by the wayside like poor performance in Regal and Snuze and having clung to trunk-space consuming hinge designs to linger throughout its lineup. Then you have bone-headed moves with the new Shamaro that have tail light design that consumes SO MUCH trunk space as to make one wonder if this company gives a damn - and look at the wretched interior in the Shamaro. When this company gets a product right like the Equinox, it screws it up with buttons that are not readable in bright light. And Government Motors still has the worst advertising in the industry with arrogant commercials and trying to equate itself now with its past when the products now, particularly at Chevrolet, are simply awful (Malibore has no rear seat interior room) and the Impala is one of the worst on the market as far as refinement (I spent 3 hours in a friend's Impala and it was like riding in a 1980's car - felt every bump, unrefined road nose control - interior materials are class worst and when the driver sits in the car and your feet are under the front seat, you have your feet pinned to the floor!).

I know that what matters to these idiot investment Schmucks is that Government Motors has little debt - duhhhhh - they screwed EVERYONE who owed them money through bankruptcy and this administration threw CENTURIES of legal precedent out the window by allowing bondholders to get screwed. Government Motors has a clean balance sheet because it was so improperly managed that it was compelled to throw in the towel - and the managers in this financial black hole that are making decisions are the same nimrods who did it before! You don't see Government Motors releasing products like Hyundai that are class best or leaders - you see stale designs or investments into products that have limited or no financial payback like CTS coupe and wagon - and the continued notion to import Aussie vehicles here even though the exchange rate will make this venture a MONEY LOSER. The VaporVolt has an engine that is too large for its need - the vehicle was sold as an electric vehicle with gasoline assist, but we find it is really a hybrid with direct drive through the gasoline engine in many situations - and that that product has no compelling economic purchasing efficiency over any car that costs $18k or less that approaches 40 mpgs - in less than 150,000 miles of operation.

Overall, there may be "paper" reasons to fall in love with Govenrment Motors, but there are compelling operational issues with the company that show it has little upside compared to Ford which has a product driven culture and a true leader in Alan Mulally. And one thing Government Motors doesn't have is competence in leadership at the top position. It is utterly clueless and lazy.
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