I'm beginning my series of picks and pans with a challenge.

When I read that GM ( GM) led Dow gainers last year, I got to wondering -- could the same thing happen to Ford ( F)?

Ford Motor Company, by many conventional measures, is an extreme value. Its problems, on the other hand, are monumental and well publicized.

Either way, Ford is getting a lot of attention these days. It's the most actively traded Big Board issue almost on a daily basis.

I share my picks and pans not only to evaluate individual investments but also to sharpen your skills in finding your own stock values.

In that spirit, I venture down the road to answer the questions: Has this venerable old name been beaten down far enough? Are we missing the value in this deal?

Value investors look beyond financial fundamentals into business and marketplace fundamentals that drive future value.

A high-P/E issue like Starbucks ( SBUX) can be considered a value because of its brand value and market leadership, which leads ultimately to growth and profits.

But Starbucks is a growth story. Ford, on the other hand, is clearly a story of managed decline.

The headlines continue to broadcast sales declines and the loss of the venerable No. 2 U.S. position to Toyota ( TM).

The question is, how well is that decline being managed, and can this $90 billion-a-year ship be righted? If so, there may be substantial rewards for Ford investors. But the risks are sizeable.

Click here for the video version of this story from Jennifer Openshaw.

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