Ford’s fourth-quarter earnings, reported Thursday evening, came in a little light and financial guidance for 2022 didn’t blow investors away. The stock was trading lower Friday and it could be a tough day for Ford bulls since Wall Street isn’t defending shares following the earnings miss.
(ticker: F) stock was at $18.72 in premarket trading Friday, down 5.9%.
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futures fell 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively.
The company reported 26 cents in adjusted per-share earnings. It posted $2 billion in operating income from $37.7 billion in sales. Wall Street expected earnings of 45 cents a share along with $2.8 billion in operating income from $34.5 billion in vehicle sales.
Looking ahead, Ford expects to earn about $12 billion in operating profit in 2022, right in line with analysts’ projections.
Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner lowered his price target to $21 from $24 a share. His problem wasn’t with the fourth-quarter number. Rosner has concerns that the 2022 guidance is aggressive. Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said that he expects better performance in the second half of 2022 as more semiconductor supply comes online.
Global automotive production has been constrained for about a year by a lack of chips. Projecting second-half 2022 improvement in supply puts Ford at risk of disappointing again at some point this year.
RBC analyst Joseph Spak, like Rosner, rates shares Hold. He took his price target to $22 from $26 a share. He asked “are Ford earnings capped by the BEV transition?” in a report Thursday. (BEV is short for battery-electric vehicle.)
“It was refreshing to hear how CEO [Jim] Farley talked about BEVs needing a completely different business and mindset vs. ICE when it comes to go- to-market, product development, procurement, talent, etc,” wrote Spak. He supports the strategic direction, but wrote that operating profit margins during the transition might top out at about 8%. What’s more, Spak said capital spending needs to rise. Those are two headwinds for earnings, and potentially for the stock, according to the analyst.
Not everyone is as worried as Spak and Rosner. “Lower-than-expected volume in North America related to the ongoing [semiconductor] shortage and higher commodity costs largely accounted for the miss,” wrote Benchmark analyst Mike Ward in a Friday report. “As volume recovers, we expect a recovery in working capital items and a positive impact on cash balances.”
Ward reduced his 2022 earnings estimate due to ongoing semiconductor shortage, but he left his numbers for 2023 unchanged. Ward maintained his Buy rating and $29 price target for Ford stock.
Ward is in the minority though. Just less than half of all analysts covering Ford stock rate shares at a Buy. The average Buy rating ratio for stocks in the S&P is about 58%.
The average analyst price target for Ford stock dropped to about $19.90 from $20.60 a share after earnings.
Write to Al Root at [email protected]