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Ford Deserves More Respect From Market, Bank of America Says

Ford Motor Co., which fell below $10 yesterday for the first time in 13 months, is not receiving the credit it deserves from investors, Bank of America Corp. said.

Ford shares, which dropped 41 percent this year through yesterday, are trading at 2.6 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, compared with a historical average of 4 to 5 times earnings, Bank of America analyst John Murphy wrote in a note today. Murphy added Ford to the company’s US 1 list of stocks with a buy recommendation.

“Even in the downside scenario of a double-dip recession, Ford’s stalwart balance sheet is substantially healthier than in 2008,” Murphy wrote. “But we believe that the market is not giving Ford’s stock credit for the company’s balance-sheet health.”

Ford had net income of $4.95 billion in the first half of the year, as fuel-efficient models like the Fiesta subcompact attracted buyers in a slowing U.S. auto market. Ford paid down debt by $2.6 billion in the second quarter, leaving it with $22 billion in automotive gross cash and $14 billion in debt.

“The recovery in U.S. demand should drive the auto stocks higher while Ford’s product cycle hits a sweet spot driving market-share gains, with a ‘fortress-like’ balance sheet,” wrote Murphy, who has a price objective on Ford stock of $26. “It should also be noted that second-quarter results were solid.”

Ford Rises

Ford, based in Dearborn, Michigan, rose 98 cents, or 9.9 percent, to $10.91 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares closed yesterday at $9.93, the lowest since June 29, 2010.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 429.92 points, or 4 percent, to 11,239.77. Yesterday, the Dow fell 634.76 points, or 5.6 percent, after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S.’s credit rating Aug. 5 to AA+ from AAA.

“The near-term economic challenges are clear, and we see the U.S. debt ceiling law and European Central Bank bond purchase as constructive developments to stabilize the global economy,” John Stoll, a Ford spokesman, said in a statement. “We remain focused on the incoming indicators and economic fundamentals, and we are monitoring how they will affect consumer confidence.”

Ford maintained its 2011 forecast of 13 million to 13.5 million industrywide sales of vehicles, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks. “It likely will come in at the lower end,” Stoll said.

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