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Alan Mulally, Who Fixed Ford in the U.S., Is Worth a Bet in Europe

DETROIT -- ( TheStreet) -- Once again, Ford (F - Get Report) CEO Alan Mulally is taking the lead in a massive restructuring effort.

Mulally, who oversaw the historic turnaround of Ford North America, accomplished without a government bailout, is going for it again. He no doubt sees that the turnaround of Ford Europe, which began in earnest last week, could become his final miracle at Ford.

"Ford has essentially written the playbook on automotive restructuring, given the results in North America," wrote Jefferies analyst Peter Nesvold, in a recent report about the automaker's plans in Europe. "We think they're going to pull this off."

That makes now a good time for investors to zero in on the possibilities in Europe, given that the shares barely moved after the automaker outlined its European restructuring plan on Thursday. Ford shares began the week at $10.14 and closed Friday at $10.36, mostly due to a 21-cent gain on Thursday.

"We believe that investors are underappreciating the plan, likely explaining the muted 2% upside to the stock (on Thursday)," UBS analyst Colin Langan wrote Friday. "Investor concerns likely center around the timing and certainty of the cost savings which begin in mid-2013 and the full run-rate not realized until 2014.

"A closer look at the underpinning assumptions suggest that the margin recovery is achievable, perhaps even beatable, should volumes recover faster," Langan wrote. For Ford to achieve a 6% margin by 2015, overall industry Europe sales would need to gain 1 million units over 2012 levels, while Ford would need to regain its decade average market share (by adding 170 basis points) and auto prices would need to recover by 2%.

"If Ford can reach 6% margin by 2015, its European Union profit would be $1.8 billion, improved from a loss of $1.6 billion in 2012," he said.

That would boost earnings per share by 20 cents, said Langan, who has a buy and a $14 price target for Ford.

Ford shares closed Friday down 5% for the year. GM (GM - Get Report) shares are up 11%. Ford will report third-quarter earnings on Tuesday while GM will report on Wednesday.

TheStreet, wrote on July 27 that it looked like a good time to bet on Mulally, with Ford shares at $9.
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