NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A few weeks ago I wrote about Sirius XM's (SIRI) and Ford Motor's (F) expansion of their used car program. The timing of my bullish Ford and bearish Sirius article was fortuitous as Ford and Sirius have performed as expected. (Read my previous Ford article.)
Ford offers more than an ordinary value investing buy. It is priced like a value buy but is poised to perform like a growth stock and should be aggressively acquired for long-term portfolios. Ford is what you want in an investment: stability, growth potential, dividend and management.
As one of the oldest vehicle producers, Ford has seen many economic cycles, including the latest financial crisis that left Chrysler and General Motors (GM) bankrupt and begging Congress for loans. Ford didn't seek a loan from the government because of Ford's superior management team.
Ford's management team is led by CEO Alan Mulally. Mulally has tremendously improved Ford's balance sheet. For example, at the end of 2009, Ford owed almost $140 billion in long-term debt. By the end of 2011, Ford's long-term debt fell to under $100 billion, a drop of 30% -- an amazing feat when you consider the economic environment as a whole and the auto industry in particular.While long-term debt dropped, Mulally directed Ford to lay rubber in China. Ford has invested billions of dollars to make the Ford lineup as much at home in the Middle Kingdom as the middle-class garage in America. China is now the biggest auto market in the world, and Ford anticipates a doubling of Ford sales in China during the next three years. Obviously, doubling sales is less meaningful when the starting base is small, but it will not be a "gimme" either.
GM's Buick is an extraordinarily strong brand in China and Toyota (TM) isn't sitting still either. Even though Ford is playing catch-up, it has the luxury of brand history and doesn't have to prove it's playing on an equal footing as many of the Korean and new Chinese auto makers. Ford may not be the number one auto maker but it is the number one truck maker in America and trucks are more profitable than cars. With oil prices falling and gas prices sure to follow as America slowly switches to natural gas, bigger (and more profitable) vehicles are likely to stay in style for some time to come. The 2012 Ford Expedition is advertised to get 20 miles per gallon anyway, demonstrating an impressive improvement from just a few years ago.
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