With GM assets finally sold, Ford is the only U.S. car play

Ford (F) is under some new pressure. It is now officially the only publicly traded U.S. auto stock, the proxy for the entire industry. A bankruptcy judge approved the sale of GM's assets last night. Not so long ago, investors could trade Daimler-Chrysler, and only a month ago Wall Street could track the fortunes of the American car companies by investing in GM.

Investing in the prospects of The Big Three though Ford may end up being unrealistic. Ironically, Ford may be doing much better than its two U.S. peers. That is counterintuitive. Ford should be at a disadvantage. Its balance sheet did have have the advantage of being put through a bankruptcy court. Its labor costs were not negotiated in the shadow of a Chapter 11 filing.

Ford's shares should end up doing extremely well. Without the disruption of a restructuring and with capital on hand that it raised three years ago, Ford has built a new generation of vehicles that have left GM and Chrysler with model lines that are a year or two older. Ford has moved rapidly into smaller cars, and its June sales show that the decision may turn out to be brilliant.

Ford is the only U.S. car company listed on a stock exchange, and it is probably the best off of The Big Three as well.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.


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