Ford's report raises analysts' doubts

By From freep| Apr 28 2007
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While some investors were enthusiastic about Ford Motor Co.'s first-quarter results, many Wall Street analysts urged caution.

Brian A. Johnson, an analyst with Lehman Brothers, questioned "the sustainability of the improvements." He noted that Ford often surprises investors with a strong first quarter, only to disappoint later in the year after they have to slash prices to sell cars and trucks.

Others voiced similar concerns.

"We hate to be party poopers, but we just can't get that excited about Ford's first-quarter results," Shelly Lombard, a senior analyst at Gimme Credit, an independent research service on corporate bonds, wrote in a note to clients. "They were much better than most analysts expected. ... But Ford acknowledges that, like last year, the first quarter will be its strongest quarter. ... This year will be more of the same."

Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Barry acknowledged the results were "stronger than expected," but he advised investors to "remain more cautious." He pointed to the company's weak product pipeline and the nation's slumping housing market as possible drags on Ford's future performance.

"The U.S. housing market does not bode well for auto sales, especially for Ford's critical, high-profit pickups."

Among stock analysts reporting to Bloomberg, two recommend buying Ford stock, eight recommend holding it and five rated it a sell.

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