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The Bombshell With Ford's Now Former CEO Is a Harsh Reminder on the Uncertain Future for Cars

Automaker execs worldwide will likely be sending a few gossipy emails around on Monday, but what they should be doing is sending honest reminders to all of their teams.

Ford (F) announced Monday that it has ousted CEO Mark Fields, and will replace the company lifer with former Steelcase (SCS) CEO and turnaround specialist Jim Hackett. Shares closed 2.2% higher at $11.11 in Monday's trading session as investors cheered what could be a cost-cutting focused Ford under Hackett. Ford didn't hide in its statement detailing Hackett's appointment that one of his main goals is to "strengthen operations."

"Hackett is seen as instrumental in anticipating consumer change in turning around Steelcase," points out Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois.

Anyone who has casually watched the developments at Ford over the past few months could have seen this one coming a mile away. First, Ford issued a surprising profit warning back in March thanks to slowing auto sales and investments in Field's pet mobility projects. Since then, auto industry sales trends have arguably worsened, which had many wondering if Ford's outlook was truly kitchen sink stuff.

Then in April, Tesla (TSLA) saw its market cap blow past Ford's. That was no doubt a slap in the face to a proud company such as Ford -- after all, it was one of the pioneers of the automobile industry. To top it off, Ford announced a good number of job cuts last week, likely as the board wanted to goose a stock price that been stuck in neutral under Field's leadership. Since Fields took over on July 1, 2014, shares of Ford have plunged 30%. Although Ford's results have been OK during that span, the reality is that other automakers have better sold their stories to Wall Street and have been rewarded accordingly.

Hackett acknowledged in a conference with media that Ford could do a better job articulating its vision to Wall Street.

Fields'...


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