GM is gaining favor among big hedge funds, due to improving fundamentals and a more attractive valuation. While TheStreet Ratings' quantitative model doesn't rate GM (due to a lack of historical financial data), the model has a "buy" rating on Ford.

Ford has a $20 target, offering 33% upside from the most recent close. This is driven by a number of strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and ought to give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity, solid stock-price performance, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and revenue growth.

We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has a sizable debt load (yet management has taken great strides in improving the balance sheet). Ford improved earnings per share by 22% in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year earlier. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel this trend should continue.

Some notable hedge funds have been attracted by Ford's prospects. Ivory Investment Management recently purchased 5 million shares, and Adage Capital Partners purchased 3.6 million shares. Columbus Circle and Atalanta Sosnoff, two of Ford's largest hedge fund holders, left their positions largely untouched in the quarter.

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Equity research manager Chris Stuart, CFA, joined TheStreet Ratings after working as a senior investment analyst with Merrill Lynch covering small-cap equity and alternative investment strategies. Prior to that, Stuart worked for One Beacon Insurance as an actuarial analyst and at H&R Block as a financial adviser. Stuart earned his bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He holds a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a member of the Boston Security Analysts Society (BSAS) and the CFA Institute.

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