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Mustang Launch Did Not Help Ford’s Shareholders

Douglas A. McIntyre

The Mustang. Ford's (NYSE:F) storied sports car, now aged, got a makeover. The publicity the new auto got was extraordinary. But, it did not help the No.2 U.S. manufacturers shares. The Mustang launch got overwhelmed by Ford's weak U.S. November sales--which are, after all, more important than a new car.

Ford claimed the new Pony has everything a sports car buyer could want:

All-new sophisticated design clearly inspired by 50 years of Mustang heritage evolved to attract wider array of customers and expand global market availability
Mustang now available with three engines offering a broader power of choice – a more powerful 5.0-liter V8, a 3.7-liter V6 and an all-new fuel-efficient 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine
Mustang sets new performance and dynamics benchmarks for the brand with world-class handling, more precise steering control and enhanced ride comfort

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The small engine part may be a bit of a reach, and it may also be a reach to say the car's handling is "world class". Auto enthusiasts probably still give that crown to a more exotic brand--BMW or Porsche. Note to Ford's management--don't claim what you can't deliver.

The news from the early part of the week washed out Ford's share price. It fell from $17.20 on Monday, down to $16.44 when the manufacturer released its November numbers, and recovered by the tiniest amount on Friday, closing at $16.70

Last month, U.S. car and light truck sales across all manufacturers rose 8.9% to 1,245,325. Ford could not nearly match the pace, as its November sales rose only 7.1% to 189,705. That barely beat Toyota (TM) which sold 178,044 cars.

Ford said it had its best November since 2004. But, at the more detailed level, the statistics were less impressive. Much of the improvement was due to the ongoing success of the decades old work horse F-150 pick-up. And, hidden in the fine print was news about the dying Lincoln luxury brand. Ford colored the Lincoln statistics brightly:

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Lincoln MKZ sales of 2,854 cars represent a 114 percent increase compared with the same period a year ago, leading the Lincoln brand to an overall increase of 17 percent. November MKZ retail sales in California more than tripled for the period.

Anyone who knows the car industry, knows that Lincoln's sales are miniscule against the likes of Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, and Audi.

The Mustang had a good day, but Ford had a bad week, because it had a bad month in November


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