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Ford Upgraded by Benchmark to Buy on New Management

Benchmark analyst Michael Ward upgrades Ford stock to buy with a stock-price target of $10.

Ford's  (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report new management and better than expected third-quarter earnings will provide a near-term catalyst for the auto-making giant, according to a Benchmark analyst, who upgraded the company to buy from hold.

Analyst Michael Ward also introduced a price target of $10 a share, which is 38% above Friday's closing price of $7.25.

Shares of the Dearborn, Mich., company were up nearly 1% to $7.32 in premarket trading.

"Better-than-expected North American production, a positive shift in mix, and improving metrics in the auto-credit markets ... are the primary drivers for better- than-expected earnings performance in the third quarter," Ward said in a note to investors.

In addition, Ward said, "demand in China has been better than expected and expansion of the Lincoln brand should be a plus for Ford."

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In 2019, Ford produced 700,000 F-150 trucks in North America and another 350,000 Super Duty pickups, which Ward estimated accounted for about $40 billion of annual revenue.

"The conversion of two plants (Michigan and Hermosillo) from car production to trucks by the end of 2021, by our estimates, will lead to additional increases in truck mix," he said.

Ward noted that Jim Farley took over as chief executive in October, and among his first moves was to appoint John Lawler as chief financial officer.

"Both Farley and Lawler, in our opinion, will be perceived as significant upgrades by the investment community and both are viewed positively with the Ford organization," Ward said.

The analyst said that "the management changes along with new product momentum and the benefits of cost improvement actions, in our opinion, are positive variables for the stock."

Ford is scheduled to report third-quarter results on Oct. 28.