Some who have invested in Ford Motor Company came away from Thursday’s shareholders’ meeting unsatisfied with the automaker’s own investment strategy, as little new information was provided on how the company plans to bolster its share value.
“We’re as frustrated as you are by the stock price,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford said at the meeting, according to The Detroit News. “Most of [the Ford family’s] net worth is tied up in the company, and stock price matters a lot to us. We’re frustrated, but our business is performing well. We’re making investments both for today and for tomorrow, and I believe that’s the right thing to do.”
The dissatisfaction stems in part from skepticism surrounding Ford’s decision to invest so much time and capital into drivetrain electrification, autonomous-vehicle technology, and mobility services. Largely because of those investments, Ford forecasted pretax profits this year of $9 billion – significantly less than the $10.4 billion raked-in last year.
Ford’s first-quarter profits were down 35 percent from their level last year, which is even more than projected.
And The Detroit News points out that shares in Ford Motor Company closed at $17.72 on July 13th, 2014, just days after President and CEO Mark Fields assumed his current role with the company, while they opened at just $11.04 Thursday. That’s nearly a 38-percent decline.
The shareholders’ meeting was held online for the first time, and Ford leadership was pressed on matters regarding value, growth, and returns. Mark Fields characterizes the automaker’s current strategy as one with “one foot in today, [and] one foot in the future,” but the market’s response so far has lacked the same enthusiasm shown by Ford itself.
Fields doubled down on his defense of the automaker’s current strategy, saying: “The bottom line is the biggest strategic shift in the history of our company is well underway and gaining momentum as we transform ourselves into an auto and a mobility company. We’ll fulfill our vision of making people’s lives better, and delivering long-term profitable growth to our shareholders.”
The Detroit News quoted Ford shareholder John Chevedden, who currently holds 500 shares in the automaker, as saying the automaker’s decision to host Thursday’s meeting online was “a horrible retreat into a foxhole for the company. The company’s on a slippery slope to running out of town, or hiding. Maybe they’re hiding in Dearborn today in the basement. Nobody knows where this meeting is being held.”
“You come away from the meeting kind of neutral,” he continued. “There’s nothing there to convince me that the outlook is any better after this meeting, [but] I’m glad the board is concerned.”