Ford’s warning to the world

By Lawrence Lewitinn

Ford shares are stalling out, and the decline could have broader implications for the stock market, according to some market watchers.

Ford slashed its projected 2014 pre-tax profit to $6 billion from a previous range of $7 billion to $8 billion, citing in part the economic slowdown in Europe and the emerging markets. Shares of the world’s sixth-largest automaker have fallen 10 percent on the week and are down 15 percent on the month. But while some might be tempted to dismiss Ford’s troubles as simply Ford’s problems, others see them as cause for a broader concern.

“This is a big deal for U.S. companies that are starting to really start to feel the pain in the bottom line,” said Sanchez, a CNBC contributor. “We’re also starting to see the strong dollar seep in. It’s depressing currencies all around the emerging markets, and that’s also starting to hurt anybody who is selling abroad.”

The U.S. dollar index–a basket of six developed currencies versus the greenback–hit a four-year high on Tuesday. In the third quarter of 2014, it gained nearly 8 percent, its best quarterly performance since 2008. What’s more, the MSCI EAFA index of stocks, which comprises 1,000 stocks outside the U.S., has started to diverge sharply from the S&P 500, reflecting how the global selloff in equities has failed to hit our markets. That is, until now, perhaps.

“All of these really big global companies, they’re going to start to feel this,” said Sanchez.

Ford’s problems may not be just global but also technical, according to Ari Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer & Co. He notes that the carmaker has underperformed the S&P 500 this year. Now it has gotten worse, and he recommends keeping out of the stock.

“A lot of areas of this market have been selling off here, and Ford is falling victim now, too,” Wald said. “After such a sharp drop over the past few days, I want to see the stock stabilize first. I think it’s too early to buy it right here.”

Based on the charts, Wald sees support in an area around $14.30 to $14.40 per share, near where it was trading on Tuesday. “I’m monitoring for signs of buyers to come in,” he said. “But until you have that base, I think there is above-average risk that Ford could break lower.”

Noting that Ford shares have traded in a range between $14 and $18 since 2013, while the S&P 500 was up, Wald is not optimistic.

“It has underperformed what has been a much stronger trend for the S&P 500,” Wald said. “We think this continues. We think Ford is an underperformer. We’d stay away.”