Salomon Upgrades Ford to 'Buy'

Analyst Michael Ward sees a ripe buying opportunity amid the car maker's tire controversy

Salomon Smith Barney upgraded Ford Motor Co. (F ) to buy from neutral.

Analyst Michael Ward believes the negative news surrounding the Firestone tire replacement program has knocked the stock down to attractive levels. He says at current levels, Ford's stock yield exceeds 5%, or a 43% premium to the 90-day T-bill yield. Over the last 15 years, Ford's yield has reached those levels only three times; each case proved to a be good buying opportunity. He says U.S. car/light truck sales have declined for eight consecutive months, and he thinks a downturn could last 24 months. In the past, the ideal time to buy auto-related stocks has been 9-12 months before the trough. Ward has a $36 12-month target.

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