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The Ratings Game: Ford stock jumps as plan to offer more electric vehicles earns Wall Street praise


Ford Motor Co. impressed Wall Street with its plan to invest in and offer more electric vehicles in the coming years, earning praise for having a “coherent strategy” to remain competitive amid the broader industry shift away from gas-powered vehicles.


stock was set to close at its highest since November 2015, and on track to end May with gains of around 27%, its best month since July 2009 when it rose 32%.

The car maker on Wednesday detailed to investors its ongoing plans to invest in electric vehicles and autonomous driving, including the expectation that 40% of global vehicle volume to be fully electric by 2030.

General Motors Co.

in January said it it aspires to offer only electric vehicles in 15 years and to become a carbon-neutral company by 2040. Several auto makers have increased their investments in EVs and autonomous driving, chasing the success of Tesla Inc.

“Ford definitely brought a thunderous tone (after last week’s F-150 Lightning reveal) with a LOUD message of CHANGE” to expand its market though investments in electric vehicles, connectivity, and autonomous driving, Chris McNally at Evercore ISI said in a note Thursday.

Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley and other executives came across as confident and focused while outlining the strategy, he said. The executives dubbed the plan Ford+.

The strategy earned Ford stock an upgrade to the equivalent of buy from Joseph Spak at RBC Capital.

Ford’s “assuaged many of our (battery-electric vehicle) strategy concerns,” he said. The stepped-up investment, to the tune of more than $30 billion through 2025 and a target of having 40% of its sales come from EVs, addressed sustainability, battery sourcing, and other worries, Spak said.

The recent unveiling of Ford’s new electric F-150 was likely a “watershed moment” for the company. Not only does it protects its “golden goose but expands the F-150 franchise,” he said

“(We) feel much better about the more cohesive strategy as Ford is focusing
on their strengths. Ford still needs to execute, but the upside opportunity
is clearer to us,” Spak said.

Adam Jonas at Morgan Stanley struck a similar cord. It was “highly encouraging to see a coherent strategy under world class management,” he said. “Ford needs to execute against both daunting industrial headwinds, and maintaining a vibrant long-term force in the EV/digital ecosystem.”

Jonas kept the equivalent of a sell rating on the stock. “Unanswered questions” include the pace that Ford will phase out internal combustion engine vehicles as compared with the ability to scale EVs’ profitability, Jonas said.

“We applaud Ford’s management team for giving the market a lot to consider and mapping out what we see as a strong fundamental strategy,” he said. “The key is in the execution, the competition, and the de-adoption (of ICE vehicles).”

Ford shares have gained 148% in the past 12 months and about 70% this year, compared with gains of 39% and 12% for the S&P 500 index

in the same periods.

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