Is Ford Really an Automotive Stock Bargain?

The Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) might just be the most undervalued company in America right now. On December 11, 2015, Ford was trading at $13.18 a share, yet it reported the following financial numbers:

  • $145.18 billion in TTM revenues on September 30, 2015

 

  • A profit margin of 5%

 

  • A net income of $4.77 billion

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  • A dividend yield of 4.37%

 

  • A free cash flow of $4.63 billion

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  • A return on equity of 18.39%

 

  • Cash and short-term investments of $58.75 billion

 

  • $16.25 billion in cash from operations

 

The numbers make Ford sound like a classic value investment. It makes a lot of money, it is swimming in cash, and it is very cheap when compared to other carmakers. On December 11, 2015, Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM) was trading at $124.01 a share, General Motors (NYSE: GM) was trading at $34.87 a share, Honda Motor (NYSE: HMC) was trading at $31.57 a share and Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) had an unbelievable price of $223.45 a share.

What’s more fascinating is that Ford has an enterprise value that is more than twice its market capitalization. On December 11, 2015, Ford had a market cap of $54.45 billion and an enterprise value of $123.09 billion.

Ford Has a Lot of Float

Okay, so Ford makes money, but what are its growth prospects? That is hard to say because Ford’s revenue for third quarter 2015 was actually slight lower than for the same period in 2014. For the record, Ford reported a TTM revenue of $145.78 billion in September 2015.

What’s more important is that the cash and short-term investments show us that Ford has a lot of float. I imagine that much of the $58.75 billion that Ford has in the bank comes from car payments.

Ford actually had more money in the bank than Toyota, which reported $40.44 billion in cash and short-term investments; General Motors, which only had around $23.46 billion in the bank on the same day; Honda, which had $14.23 billion in the bank on that date; and Volkswagen (OTC: VLKAF), which had $42.13 billion in the bank at the end of the third quarter.

This means that Ford has more money in the bank than almost any other car company; it has accumulated a huge war chest. That gives it a huge advantage in adopting new automotive technologies such as self-driving cars and electric vehicles.

Ford to Invest $4.5 Billion in Electric Vehicles

The company’s CEO, Mark Fields, confirmed this at a recent press conference when he said Ford would be “investing $4.5 billion to bring 13 new electrified vehicles to market by 2020.”

New Focus Electric Fast Charge Time

New Focus Electric Fast Charge Time

That means Ford’s planned investment in electric vehicles now exceeds that of Volkswagen subsidiary Porsche and rivals Tesla’s spending. Elon Musk had better watch out because Ford has the production capacity to make that promise a reality; it currently operates around 90 manufacturing plants around the world.

Unfortunately, Ford didn’t provide any details for those plans or news models, Forbes contributor Sam Abuelsamid pointed out. Fields simply made a very vague announcement, which indicates that the planning has not begun.

Ford could have a huge advantage over Tesla because it could bring out varieties of electric vehicles that company has not even mentioned yet. One offering that could be a real money maker would be an electric version of Ford’s popular Transit and Transit Connect work vans. Such delivery vans are sure to be in demand as online retail and same day delivery becomes more popular. Another would be an electric pickup truck.

Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, also known as the Glass House.

Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, also known as the Glass House.

There is also the opportunity to bring out electric fleet vehicles for rental companies, taxicabs, government agencies, law enforcement and corporate motor pools. Such fleet vehicles would be natural electrics because they often travel short distances and they sit all night, which means they could easily be plugged in to charge.

Another interesting opportunity for Ford would be to offer electric vehicles for networked transportation services such as Uber and Lyft. Such ridesharing vehicles often travel short distances, and drivers have a low operating margin, which makes lower-cost alternate fuel vehicles more attractive.

There are obviously some pitfalls on the road to electric vehicles that Ford and others will have to deal with. These include the reluctance of dealers to sell them, limited range, lack of charging facilities, loss of government subsidies and competing technologies, particularly fuel cells. All that will cost money, which Ford certainly has a lot of.

Ford is a true value investment right because it is a great company that makes a lot of money, but it is also underpriced. More importantly, Ford is in an excellent position to profit from new automotive technologies.