Ford (F) has revamped and refocused its efforts to compete with some of the most profitable and popular auto manufacturers like Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC) and Volkswagen (OTCQX:VLKAY). This automaker has turned a corner and made enough significant changes to make it an extremely valuable long-term investment. Right now, this Ford is a steal at around $10 per share. On a discounted cash flow basis, I think the stock is worth at least $20 right now. But that's not what makes me so excited about this stock.
Eventually, I believe Ford will surpass its all-time high stock price and venture towards $50 per share at the very least. Growth has been significant in both the stock price and the overall operational initiatives. Ford currently has one of the lowest price-to-earnings ratios in the industry. The choice to avoid government TARP bailouts and adopt the new "Ford One" business model will pay dividends in the foreseeable future and may drive Ford to become the top auto manufacturer in North America.
The changes in management and the business model within the past six years have been essential in Ford's transformation to become a viable competitor in the auto industry. Ford had consolidated and streamlined its manufacturing efforts in order to compete with the top automakers on a global level by investing in the Global Product Development System. This year, Ford has seen one of the best starts in its history due to these progressive changes that focus on international solidarity opposed to the formerly segmented markets and models. Combining this new business model with the goodwill attached to the Ford name is enough to eventually make this automotive brand one of the most coveted in North America and around the world. By focusing on markets in Asia and shifting production from larger vehicles to smaller more fuel efficient vehicles, Ford will become one of the most highly regarded automakers in the world.
The Ford Focus has helped launch the automaker to the head of the pack. Ford is mitigating costs and strengthening its image by adhering to 80% commonality between all of the parts used in these vehicles. Ford is currently producing three of the top ten cars sold in the U.S. Ford is producing uniform designs throughout the world, driven by an international management team with a diverse feel for every market. Management is producing the same designs for each model introduced in various markets. This helps ensure strong brand identity. Even though different models are sold in different countries, a model sold in china will have the same basic design as a model sold in the U.S. Maintaining strong brand integrity is one of the major changes that will help distinguish and unify the automaker. This business model will be extremely beneficial as Ford begins to focus its attention on improving upon its 3% market share in China.
Ford is coming off a strong first quarter which shows promise for a strong year as well as positive growth prospects in the long-term. Ford has turned a profit for over 12 straight quarters and is one of the most popular brands in North America. Right now, its progress in America is the most notable gain for the automaker. Fuel efficient hybrids and the Focus have become the new rage, replacing SUVs and large vehicles.
Ford recently showed a loss in Europe, as did the entire industry. Of all the automakers, however, Ford felt the smallest impact from weakened economies in Europe. The company is also investing heavily in Asian markets in order to generate strong growth in these countries by mid-decade. The Asian market represents the biggest opportunity for foreign automakers like Ford, as it is the largest in the world. Asia also has an affinity for foreign products, especially those that are made in America. Ford also felt little impact from the natural disasters in Asia that have set back automakers Toyota and Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY).
Ford still trails luxury and high-end automakers. These automakers appeal to the demographic least affected by the recession and weakened European economy. Ford does have the ability to eventually target this market with vehicles like the Mustang. Right now, the smaller more fuel efficient vehicles are the most popular and are effectively driving Ford towards prosperity. Ford's sales are up over 8%, trailing prominent manufacturers like Nissan and Toyota.
Eventually, Ford may become the American version of Toyota after adopting its similar business model. Becoming the premier American automaker in North America and focusing efforts to gain market share in China by mid-decade will position Ford to be one of the most popular choices in the near future for decades to come. The most important factor has been the change in Ford's business model. This new approach is cultivating a quick turnaround for the automaker, enabling increased stability, practicality and measured approach to sustain over the long-term.
General Motors (GM) and Chrysler are on par with Ford, but the government still owns a significant portion of both of these automakers, and eventually this will enable Ford to outperform its American counterparts.
As Ford continues to increase its presence in Asia, it will create jobs in local Asian countries as well as America. Reinvesting and revamping incentives for Detroit workers to create innovative patents, inventions and designs will also help drive Ford to the forefront. Ford has increased patent submissions by over 30% from 2011 by reinvesting in TechShop Detroit and the Employee Patent Incentive Award program. The automaker currently has over 17,000 issued patents around the world, and intends to become the leader in automotive innovation.
President and CEO Alan Mulally is the catalyst for this long-term projection of renewed growth and success in the industry. After acquiring him following his similar efforts at Boeing, Ford has begun to make impressive strides to become one of the leading automakers in the world. Increased accountability in weekly conferences with definitive data and discussions has cleared the way for congealed efforts and a clear vision within the organization.
Uniform designs that focus on international appeal, fuel efficiency and profitably have been essential in changing the culture and perception of Ford in most markets around the world. Investing and focusing these efforts in places like China, Thailand and Indonesia, while not over investing in weakened European markets, will be extremely beneficial for Ford in the short-term and long-term as well.