1 Stock I Wouldn’t Touch With a 10-Foot Pole

With 4.4 million vehicles sold in 2023, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is one of the largest car manufacturers on the face of the planet. It sells well-known models and has a history that spans more than 100 years.

But the stock has been a disappointment. In the past decade, it is up just 37% — and that’s if we include dividends. Excluding those quarterly payouts, owning the shares would’ve resulted in a negative return.

While this auto stock is benefiting from decent momentum right now, up about 6% year to date, I’m not touching it with a 10-foot pole. Let’s first examine Ford’s latest results before turning our attention to the most important factors that should matter to long-term investors.

The good

After Ford reported its 2023 fourth-quarter financials, investors cheered the news. Automotive revenue of $43.2 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $0.29 both handily beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations.

Management seemed optimistic about the state of the business by announcing a special one-time $0.18 dividend. And with plans to cut costs by $2 billion this year, executives are finding ways to drive a more efficient organization, which should help the bottom line.

Beating consensus expectations is the only good news that I can think about when looking at this company. However, some investors might view the valuation as being a key reason to own the stock. Ford trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of just 11.9 right now. This could be compelling compared to the 23.2 multiple of the S&P 500 or the sky-high price tags of many AI-focused tech stocks. But the next two sections may convince you that Ford’s low valuation is justified.

The bad

The monster success of Tesla during the past decade spurred legacy automakers, like Ford, to aggressively invest in their own electric vehicle (EV) ambitions. But there’s still a lot of work to be done to get to a viable business model.

During the course of last year, Ford Model E, the company’s EV segment, reported revenue growth of 12%, but its operating loss totaled a whopping $4.7 billion. It could be many years until this division stops burning through mountains of cash.

In a discouraging bit of news, the leadership team announced last October that it was delaying $12 billion worth of EV-related investments due to softer demand trends. This move is a head-scratcher.

In 2023, Ford sold 20% more EV units than it did the prior year. And just in the month of February, EV unit sales were up 81% compared to February 2023. That looks like robust demand and growth to me. But it makes you wonder what level of EV gains, which might never come to fruition, management is actually looking for.

The ugly

As long-term investors, it’s best to always zoom out and focus on traits that may or may not make a stock work out as a favorable investment. Ford has one notable characteristic that makes it a company I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

It has an extremely capital-intensive business model. Auto factories are simply very expensive to build, own, and operate.

The great Warren Buffett has said that these kinds of companies are typically poor investments. And that’s especially the case during inflationary times, when the cost of commodities, labor, and other key inputs continues to rise.

This situation means that Ford is extremely sensitive to macro forces. If there’s an economic downturn, the financials will take a huge hit.

Investors looking to park their hard-earned savings in Ford stock should stop and think twice.

Should you invest $1,000 in Ford Motor Company right now?

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Neil Patel and his clients have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Stock I Wouldn’t Touch With a 10-Foot Pole was originally published by The Motley Fool