Ford Chief in Cruise Control, Fails to Rev Investors
Ford held 25.7 percent of the U.S. market in 1995, the last time it
gained market share. Reaching that level again ``is not going to
happen,'' Merkle said. ``I'd be happy if they can stabilize at 14
percent and be profitable.''
While customers may be holding out for new Ford models, investors are
also keeping an eye on this year's national contract talks with the
United Auto Workers.
``The biggest hurdle is how they deal with the UAW,'' said Mirko
Mikelic, who helps manage $21 billion in fixed-income assets, including
Ford bonds, at Fifth Third Asset Management in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
``Getting them to reduce hourly wages and benefits is really tricky.''
Ford hasn't discussed in detail what it's seeking. Sean McAlinden, an
analyst at the Center for Automotive Research, said in February that the
company wants union backing to cut wages and benefits by 20 percent.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, in an interview on WJR-AM radio in
Detroit, called such concessions unnecessary. ``They went through this
huge financing; they have a ton of cash,'' Gettelfinger said. ``That
company is in great shape.''