Merrill Upgrades Ford to 'Strong Buy'

Analyst John Casesa says recent management appointments should enhance investors' confidence in the company's restructuring plan

Merrill Lynch upgraded Ford Motor (F ) to near term strong buy from neutral.

Analyst John Casesa says the automaker is working its way through the most difficult stage in its restructuring. He thinks Ford has has a credible, achievable plan, while recent management appointments should enhance investors' confidence in the restructuring plan and increase the likelihood of success. He notes Ford is highly liquid with $21.5 billion in automotive cash and an over-funded U.S. pension plan. While the product pipeline is lean now, it should improve dramatically in two years, he says.

Casesa kept his long term strong buy rating. He says the stock is trading at the low end of its historical full-cycle valuation range. He has a $24 price target on the shares.

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