"First, we’d suspect that new CEO Jim Hackett will likely be a medium-term CEO, with a successor to be groomed over the coming years (perhaps in 3-4 yrs). On one hand, Hackett won’t be a ‘placeholder’ CEO. Hackett is in his early 60s, a similar age to when Alan Mulally took over as CEO, and will be tasked with a bit of a transformation -- sharpening the execution, combined with driving forward the strategy on emerging technologies.
"Second, we expect a greater focus on cost-cutting and optimization than we saw under Mark Fields’ tenure. If there was one area where Ford was admittedly soft in more recent years, it was around exceeding expectations of profitability."
-- Brian Johnson, Barclays Capital
Since taking the helm at Ford three years ago, Mark Fields has overseen the strongest financial performance since the recession. He’s launched the most advanced light- and heavy-duty pickups on the market, and he’s invested in future technology to ensure Ford’s survival as the business model for traditional automakers faces drastic upheaval.
"But over this same period Mary Barra and GM have produced even more impressive financial results by focusing on where GM can be profitable while removing business units showing little short- or long-term promise. Add in the rise of Tesla, an upstart automaker that has eclipsed Ford and GM’s value by promising to change the world through advanced technology, and the impressive results Fields delivered simply weren’t enough to satisfy Ford’s stockholders.”
-- Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book
“Mark Fields was given the nearly impossible task of making the utterly conventional auto manufacturer, Ford Motor Company, into a high-tech information-style company with share values to match. Despite turning in credible profits, Fields was unable to turn Ford into a stock market darling, and that may well prove elusive going forward.”
-- Jack Nerad, executive editor, Kelley Blue Book
“Ford exemplifies the challenge facing auto manufacturers; having great ambitions for smart mobility services, but still being heavily reliant on a profitable series of pickup trucks. However, if traditional manufacturers don’t properly take advantage of automotive technology trends – electrification, connectivity, automation - they’ll soon be overtaken by newcomers who will.
"Given Ford’s poor share performance in recent months, it’s not very surprising that they should look for fresh leadership. What's really interesting is the fact that they should opt for the man who has spent over a year heading up their smart mobility efforts.”
-- James Hodgson, ABI Research
"We generally view the news as concerning, especially because a stable management team, with a clear and consistent strategy for achieving short- and long-term goals and a cooperative relationship with its board of directors, is critical, given the late stages of the US cycle and a downturn that could be imminent, in our view. Frustration with the stock is understandable
"In our view, the exit of Mark Fields likely had much to do with the company's stock performance since he assumed the role of CEO in 2014 (down roughly 40%). This was driven, in part, by the elevated investments the company is making in a race with peers on electrification and autonomous technology, but also the deceleration of the US cycle (and a cyclical bullish trade on autos that is ending, in our view)...
"But not an opportune time for changes in strategy."
-- John Murphy, Merrill Lynch