Ford Eyes $41 Billion Haul From `Precious' F-Series Pickups

(Bloomberg) -- Back in the summer of 2016, there was plenty of angst in the corridors of Ford Motor Co. about the state of its cash-cow franchise, the F-Series pickup.

The company was spending heavily to introduce its aluminum-bodied Super Duty trucks, suppliers were struggling to ramp up output fast enough and rival General Motors Co. was mocking the new metal as wimpy in a series of harsh TV attack ads.

Fast forward a year and those jitters are long gone. The new Super Duty, it turns out, is as big a hit with Americans -- bigger even -- than its steel-bodied predecessor. Ford is on pace to sell more than 900,000 F-Series pickups this year. That’s about 2,500 per day. And the trucks are selling at an eye-popping $45,500 apiece, up about $3,100 from last year. Those numbers helped propel Ford earnings above analyst expectations in the third quarter.

Assuming Ford keeps up the pace with those sales and transaction prices through year-end, the F-Series line will bring in about $41 billion in revenue in 2017. For some perspective, that’s more annual sales than analysts expect from entire companies, including Facebook Inc., Coca-Cola Co., Nike Inc. and American Express Co.

“F-Series always plays an important role for the company -- that’s one of our precious franchises,” Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer, told reporters Thursday at the company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

Ford Eyes $41 Billion Haul From `Precious' F-Series Pickups

Ford’s struggles with F-Series a year ago contributed to its fortunes diverging from crosstown rival GM, which was building on its dominance with behemoth sport utility vehicle models like the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon.

The disparity between how investors are feeling about the two companies has only widened since then. Analysts have been growing more optimistic about the prospects of GM’s bets on mobility services like Maven and the self-driving technology that its Cruise Automation unit is developing.

The F-Series haul hands Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett plenty of funds to work with as he toils toward closing the perception gap. Ford shares climbed as much as 2.5 percent Thursday and were up 0.7 percent to $12.13 as of 12:28 p.m. in New York trading.

GM won’t let Ford rest on its laurels. The automaker is temporarily shutting down factories that make its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups this year to start preparing them to build refreshed trucks coming out next year. Hackett, 62, doesn’t sound phased.

“We think we’re in a really good position,” the CEO told analysts on an earnings call. “Super Duty is doing extremely well and we had counted on that. We’re very happy with that franchise.”

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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