Experts still see hope for Ford Motor Company (F) as it tries to get back on track under CEO Jim Hackett.
The company still has a long way to go to come back from a trend that has left shares at post-recession lows. Precipitously declining sales numbers and macro pressures have left the stock charting just over $9 per share on Monday.
Even still, multiple analysts still see hope for the automaker to hit the road to recovery.
"It's been slow coming, but there is a gap between how the company can restructure itself and what the market is giving them credit for," Jefferies Financial (JEF) analyst Philippe Houchois told Real Money in an interview. "There are still a few areas of optimization that Ford can target."
He cited honing in its geographic focus as slowdowns in China and Europe drag on earnings, and positioning itself towards specialty and non-retail vehicles as a positive for the company.
"It's important to note that they are not necessarily just pulling out of certain segments," he explained. "They are repositioning in non-retail with specialty vehicles like station wagons and even police cars to revive the business."
He explained that the car segment was not profitable for the company amid declining sales figures and was a wise area for divestment. Staff cuts targeting white collar workers in car design should help the company come out positively from the refocus, he added.
Houchois said that while the recovery under CEO Jim Hackett might take time to develop, he remains confident in its long term prospects. He set a price target of $13 and a buy rating on the stock.
Morgan Stanley (MS) analyst Adam Jonas was slightly more bullish with his price target of $15 and an overweight rating.
He cited historical figures that show Ford's stock price was significantly higher in 2010 amidst many more headwinds than confront the business at present.
"At the time we issued our initiation report on Ford in October 2010, our 2011 global Ford revenue forecast was $130 billion," Jonas wrote. "Today, our forward year 2019 revenue forecast is $158bn."
He added that revenue, revenue per unit, and sales volume are all projected to be markedly higher than they were in 2010, when the share price stood at $12.26. The price in 2010 would represent about a 33% premium on today's share price.
To be sure, both analysts were cautious on the overall industry given concerns on tariffs, the uncertain race to autonomous driving supremacy, and the debt burden of U.S. auto-makers.
Houchois recently tempered his price target given some remaining concerns and a lack of transparency from the company on its turnaround plans and expected drags on earnings, but maintained his positive outlook for the longer term.
"Our focus will remain on Ford's cash flow and ability to keep the balance sheet strength it requires ahead of major re-organization," he said in his note explaining his continued positive outlook.
Shareholders might have endured a great deal of pain this year as the company struggles to right its ship, but some comfort might be found in the fact that experts feel hope remains yet.
On a down day for the markets, Ford shares were actually risiing, suggesting that some hope is springing through.