Ford Motor Company (F)

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Ford Motor Company (F)

November 01, 2011 1:00 pm ET

Executives

Ken Czubay - Vice President of US Marketing Sales & Service

Jenny Lin -

Erich Merkle -

Analysts

DeeAnn Durbin

Mike Ramsey

Alisa Priddle

Keith Naughton - Bloomberg

Himanshu Patel - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Rod Lache - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Itay Michaeli - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Bernard Woodall

Greg Gardner

John Murphy - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Brian Arthur Johnson - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Christopher J. Ceraso - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Patrick Archambault - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Ford Monthly Sales Conference Call. My name is Jennifer and I'll be your operator for today. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes. I would now like to turn the conference over to your host for today, Mr. Erich Merkle, Ford U.S. sales analyst. Please proceed.

Erich Merkle

Thank you, Jennifer and I just want to welcome -- we've got Ken Czubay on the line with us. Jenny Lin is here; and also joining us is George Pipas today. But good afternoon, and welcome to our sales -- to Ford's October sales call. I think the best way or we think the best way that October's industry sales could be characterized would be solid with the sales building nicely off of what we saw in September. Our estimates indicate that October resulted in a mid-13 million total vehicle SAAR, which would include medium and heavy, compared with a 13.2 million total vehicle SAAR in September. These estimates place us roughly in line with the stronger sales pace that we experienced in February and March earlier this year prior to, as you remember, the events that created -- the awful events in Japan that created inventory issues following in the month of March. The industry started off strong in the first quarter, and what appears that we will see strength as we finish the year out.

Industry inventory volumes have normalized to levels that are consistent with those of a year ago. Ford Motor Company's October vehicle sales totaled 167,803 vehicles, representing a 6% increase versus year ago volumes. Ford brand sales were up 13%. Retail sales were up 8%, while fleet posted a 1% increase over last year.

Ford's October fleet mix was 27% of sales with just 8% of total sales coming from daily rental. This was very consistent with September.

To add a little more color and give us more detail, Ken is here with me. And I'd like to turn it over to Ken. Ken?

Ken Czubay

Thank you, Erich. In October, we were pleased to see the industry SAAR sequentially improve, following an improved September. At Ford, October brought a very stable and consistent pace in our sales cadence with some additional strength in the final week and week end of the month. We saw continued improvement in our passenger cars as we move through the month, and utilities and pickups were especially strong as we noted in our release.

Let's talk about utilities for a moment as they were up 38%. Historically, this is the time of year that utilities and pickups resonate well in the market. We are also hearing from our dealers that our customers are really beginning to cross-shop cars and utilities. It makes sense. After all, Ford utilities, powered almost exclusively with 4- and 6-cylinder engines, are achieving fuel economy, approaching that of many passenger cars. We have seen it in our mix over the years. Just a few years ago, 70% of our retail sales were truck and truck-based utility sales. In 2011, almost 2/3 of our retail sales are now cars and car-based utilities, and only about 1/3 of our retail sales come from trucks and truck-based utility vehicles. That's a significant change in our mix.

On the car side, we saw increases in our 3 highest volume products: Fiesta, Focus and Fusion. As we discussed in last month's call, we expected Focus' performance to improve with inventories. That's exactly what happened. Although total Focus sales were equal to a year ago, retail sales of Focus were up 4% versus last year. Focus' retail market share of the compact segment was up almost 50% last month compared to the summer months.

In fact, retail share within this segment reached its highest point since November of 2010, almost a year ago. So we are extremely pleased with the year-over-year retail Focus sales results that we are seeing, especially in the coast. And I've been talking about that for the last few months. For example, California retail sales of Focus were almost double that of a year ago, while the New York region was up nearly 50%. Importantly, 1 of 6 Focus buyers are under the age of 25. So consumers are rewarding us for investing in more technology and fuel-efficient engines. This has resulted in Focus transaction prices being among the highest in the segment and the highest series, Focus Titanium, is our fastest turning model series within the Focus line up.

On utilities, Ford continues to be America's best-selling utility brand. Sales were up again in October. Last month, we saw 38% improvement versus a year ago with a total of 45,877 utilities sold. Year-to-date, Ford brand utilities totaled 471,787 and are up 31%. 93% of our total utility volume this year is coming from car-based crossover platforms. This reinforces what I said a few moments ago.

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