Ford debt downgraded to junk

Moody's: Automaker faces considerable challenges

(CNN) - Moody's downgraded Ford's credit to junk Monday evening. It said the automaker faces considerable business challenges, and its poor financial performance badly positions Ford to take on its planned $11 billion restructuring.

"Ford is undertaking this restructuring from a weak position as measures of cash flow and profit margins are below our expectations, and below the performance of investment-grade rated auto peers," Moody's said.

News of the downgrade sent Ford shares down 3% in premarket trading Tuesday. They ended the day 1.3% lower.

During the Great Recession, Ford and other US automakers suffered massive losses and junk bond credit ratings, which can raise the cost of borrowing. But the industry has been profitable for about 10 years.

Ford in 2012 was upgraded to investment grade, which is what a credit rating is called when it is not considered a junk bond.

The company responded that it is taking the proper steps to improve its business, and that it has the cash necessary to do so.

"Ford remains very confident in our plan and progress. Our underlying business is strong, our balance sheet is solid and we have plenty of liquidity to invest in our compelling strategy for the future," said company in a statement.

The restructuring, announced in July 2018, should include cash outlays of about $7 billion, and special charges against earnings totaling $11 billion over the course of three to five years. Executives say the changes are necessary to refocus the company on growth areas, such as electric and self-driving vehicles, and away from money-losing or slow growth sectors of the company, mostly overseas.

The company has remained profitable in the year since it first announced its restructuring plans. But it has yet to disclose most of the details that will make up the restructuring, let alone put the changes in place.

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