Let me tell you honestly: Ford management understood the negative expectations regarding languishing share prices. When the dead horse started catching the whip in mid 2011, people started buying in; it was the low price and just a single ray of light that made the long slow climb to the higher mid teens. The stock slowly progressed to 17+ until the writing was on the wall; informing stockholders of at least another year and increasing tooling and training costs would not support continuing share price momentum; expectations would need to be pruned a bit.
It has been a long road and certainly one which - despite having flares of decent profits still reveals much about the fundamental issues that Ford will struggle to remedy. The big hope for a giant breakout died; Ford is creeping along growing and may be in better shape as it hopefully retires all these problems on the way to 2017.
Let me put it another way - honestly.
With the stock not even near the teens 4 years ago capitalization was dreadful and implementation of Ford One became critical. Ford engaged overdrive and began building consumer and investor confidence as Mullaly's and protege Mark Fields' plan started gaining traction in investors' eyes. But by late 2013 it became apparent that introducing the aluminum bodied F150 would mean shutting down Ford's most prolific production for retooling and labor retraining. The infamous December 2013 announcement was perfectly engineered to take the winds out of the sails a bit to mitigate hitting multiple negatively impacted quarters after a previously likely continued momentous bull run to the high $teens. Sales and profits were sufficient to prevent volatility and maintain capitalization at a livable level that worked with the prevailing debt load.
For the next 18 months the share price dropped, bottoming in the high 13s a few months back and slowly coming back as the F150 "dilemma" worked itself out. The December 2013 "stump guidance" was absolutely no mistake; it was a very slick move. All along Ford future guidance has been conservative, accurate, even inspired.
F 150 is now in full battle mode; the wicked 8000 rpm road racer Mustang GT Halo cars will be drawing the mainstream of Ford's consumer base into showrooms coming in a few months. The Continental - America's former Halo luxury car is soon to be back inspired by the likes of Jaguar, Bentley, and Maybach.
Finally- within a year or two - Ford will treat us to the the most insane Halo car in history, the $400,000 GT - a 3000 pound car capable of lapping speedways at over 200 mph. Of course air conditioning, killer stereo, and lady pleasing accoutrements will ride along.
You really can't take the banker's analysts to the bank. They don't bother touching a keyboard except to advance their own agenda, and your welfare is NOT that agenda.
Ford's greatest accomplishment has been to put together a very long complex plan that will have taken nearly 9 years to fruition. Do I believe Ford is a $30.00 stock? NO - not for awhile. Dividend - Buyback - Solidly Supported Share Prices - and development of circumferential technologies will build the new castle encompassing a greater emphasis on extravehicular transportation related services. The we can talk about 25 and 30.
Disclosure: I am/we are long F.
Additional disclosure: F is among my largest positions carefully selected to take advantage of growth and then maturing into income via dividends and reallocation. I found Mullaly's to be a disruptor whose plan was irresistible.