K.R. Kent, Ford's new executive director of investor relations, is charged with getting Ford out of Junk status. Automotive News reports that Ford has been in junk status since 2005 and is currently four grades below junk status after being upgraded by two levels back in August. Ford CFO Lewis Booth admits that the company still has "a lot of steps to go before we get to investment grade." Making the matter more urgent for Ford is the fact that Ally Financial, the finance arm for General Motors and Chrysler, became a bank holding company in the second quarter of 2009. Since that time, AN says that it has been cheaper for Ally to secure loans than Ford Credit.
We're thinking that Ford has a big job in the year ahead, and getting out of junk status will likely take improved auto sales and continued quarterly profits. Booth says Ford will reach its junk-free goal by showing the investment community "authoritative and highly credible insight into our automotive business and Ford Credit."
[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]