Ford Stock Still Beloved by Investors: Poll - TheStreet

(Ford story updated with information on the automaker's new safety features.)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A little more than a month ago we asked investors to give us their perception of where Ford (F) - Get Report stock is headed -- and they were bullish. This week, we asked again -- and the bullish sentiment, according to our poll, is as strong as ever.

In our previous survey, spanning the first week of May, 2,330 readers responded to our poll -- with 84.2% believing that there would be much upside left for the stock; 12% taking a wait-and-see approach and 3.8% feeling bearish.

This week, the bullish sentiment continued to burn with fervor, combined with a noticeable increase in the sheer quantity of votes cast. Out of 3,462 votes, 83.5% of readers who responded to our survey said they were bullish on Ford stock and think there's much upside left for it; 12.3% are taking a wait-and-see approach, and 4.2% are bearish.

Ford is presently trying to expand the popularity it enjoys in the U.S. to the Asia-Pacific region, announcing on Thursday, June 24, that it's investing $450 million in a new passenger vehicle manufacturing plant in Rayong, Thailand, despite the violent, political upheaval that has upset the country in recent months. Thailand is Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.

The plant's expected to be completed by 2012 and to begin building next-generation Ford Focus cars for both Thailand and other markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Ford said that the plant will be able to build a diverse range of vehicles in the future.

"Globally, we are committed to delivering a full lineup of Ford brand vehicles with best-in-class quality, fuel efficiency, safety, and smart technology that customers want and value," Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a written statement.

The plant is expected to have an initial capacity of 150,000 units per year. Up to 85% of the plant's production will be for markets outside Thailand.

The company already has investments of $510 million in a passenger vehicle plant in Nanjing, China and $500 million in a plant near Chennai, India to produce new, small Ford cars produced for both India and export to other international markets.

The India investment should double annual production capacity to 200,000 units.

Despite Ford's developments in the Asia-Pacific region, the chief of Ford's European division, John Fleming, warned Wednesday, on the sidelines of the Automotive News Europe industry conference in Bilbao, Spain, that the second quarter will be much weaker than the first,

Dow Jones Newswires

reported.

Fleming cited such reasons as a significantly weaker auto market and more difficult comparisons -- demand was stronger in the first three months of the year in part due to ongoing scrapping programs that have since been wound down.

According to

Bloomberg,

Fleming told reporters during the conference that the company will resist the temptation to discount in Europe despite a drop in demand following the end of European cash-for-clunker programs and softening market share in the region. The company wants to "go for profit in a very difficult world," Fleming told

Bloomberg.

Separately, according to the

Associated Press

, Ford is upgrading its electronic stability control system on the 2011 Ford Explorer, which comes out later this year, to improve the SUV's performance in the event that a driver takes a curve too rapidly.

AP

reports that the curve control system uses the same sensors as the automaker's stability control system, but cuts power even faster if it detects that the vehicle isn't turning as quickly as the driver wants it to. Ford wants to add this upgraded system to the majority of its North American crossovers, SUVs, trucks and vans by 2015,

AP

reports.

Ford stock, which had dropped to a low of $1.43 at the end of 2008, rose to a 52-week high of $14.57 in late April. Shortly after the market open Monday, it was changing hands at $10.58, down 1.8% on the day.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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