The day after Standard & Poor's cut Ford Motor's debt rating deeper into the junk category, Bill Ford was quoted Thursday as saying that the company has no plans to seek bankruptcy protection, saying "it's not an option" in a Wall Street Journal interview.

S&P justified its latest ratings cut for Ford by saying that 2006 would be even tougher for the carmaker than anticipated, and we have to wonder if Ford still has a shot at making its "Way Forward" target of returning its North American operations to profitability by 2008.

Bill Ford admitted that the company's plans had not anticipated the magnitude of price increases in raw materials, or the rate of decline in SUV sales in the face of higher gas prices.

While rival General Motors' stock price has begun to recover as its restructuring program takes hold, Ford shareholders continue to head for the exits, fueling speculation that a possible strategy for the company could be to take itself private, although Bill Ford denies such a plan.

[Source: Reuters]