Shares of Ford Motor (F 11.06, +0.19) have climbed 1.8% in pre-market ahead of a 9:45 ET news conference at the company's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, during which a new Chief Executive Officer will be named.
The Wall Street Journal reported in early May that Ford's Board of Directors has been pressing Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields to refine the company's strategy to address a declining market share and disappointing stock performance.
Mr. Fields' tenure at Ford is set to end today, as the company recently confirmed a New York Times report, claiming he will be replaced by Jim Hackett, who currently leads Ford Smart Mobility, and has been described as a ‘turnaround specialist.' Ford Smart Mobility is a Ford subsidiary working on the design, manufacture, and growth of emerging mobility services. This unit is tasked with the development of autonomous driving technologies, and the promotion of Mr. Hackett suggests that the company's Board is ready to put more focus on the area, which is being explored by other automakers at an increasing pace.
Before joining Ford, Mr. Hackett spent 20 years at Steelcase, retiring from the position of Chief Executive Officer in February 2014.
In its press release, Ford noted that Mr. Hackett will have three focus areas:
- Sharpening operational execution across the global business to further enhance quality, go-to-market strategy; product launch, while decisively addressing underperforming parts of the business.
- Modernizing Ford's business, using new tools and techniques to unleash innovation, speed decision making and improve efficiency. This includes increasingly leveraging big data, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, 3D printing and more.
- Transforming the company to meet future challenges, ensuring the company has the right culture, talent, strategic processes and nimbleness to succeed as society's needs and consumer behavior change over time.
Shares of Ford have had a disappointing start to the year, having surrendered more than 10.0% so far in 2017 versus a 5.2% year-to-date gain for the industrial sector. With that decline, shares are revisiting levels from late 2012, but it is worth remembering that the auto industry has shown recent softness with slowing sales growth leading to pressure on vehicle prices.