Who Is Ford's New CEO, Jim Farley?
Ford Motor Co. Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley is being promoted to the chief executive of the Detroit automaker, according to CNBC.
On Tuesday, the company announced that current CEO Jim Hackett would step down this October. The surprising move is in the midst of an $11 billion company restructuring. Jim Farley will become Ford's fourth CEO in the past decade.
Mr. Farley will come into the job with expectations to successfully execute the restructuring plan, launch new products such as the Bronco SUV, and lead the company in its shift to electric and autonomous vehicles. Wall Street expects Farley to expedite the restructuring plan and reinvigorate interest in the company. He has been with Ford since 2007.
“The timing occurring now to us suggests Ford is ready to take on a more aggressive, faster moving path forward,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak said in Tuesday. Farley purchased $1 million of stock earlier this year to show that he has confidence in the firm's restructuring plans. “We believe Farley brings greater sense of urgency + action,” Credit Suisse’s Dan Levy said.
Ford shares surged early on Tuesday, rising more than 3 percent before closing out up 2.5 percent. Bank of America analyst John Murphy reiterated his buy rating on Ford, stating that the company is “starting to hit an inflection in product cadence and restructuring efforts.”
Farley spent nearly 20 years with Toyota before making the move to Ford. He led the sales and marketing for Lexus and launched the Scion brand. On Tuesday, Ford described Farley as a "very key" executive when it came to saving the company during the Great Recession that bankrupted General Motors.
Farley is a "car guy." He works on classic cars and races on tracks. “Hackett’s tenure and style can be viewed as part of the process to get Ford on the path they are on (refocusing product, fixing underperforming businesses),” according to RBC Capital’s Spak. However, analyst Garrett Nelson of CFRA isn't backing Farley just yet. “Farley will have his work cut out to ‘right the ship,’ as Ford remains in the middle of a multi-year restructuring and we don’t see it’s vehicle sales returning to pre-Covid levels anytime soon.”
Last, and arguably most important, he is the cousin of Chris Farley, the famous comedian from Saturday Night Live. Last year, Jim opened up about leaving his cousin in California to pursue his career with Ford. “When he passed away, it was very sad for all of us on a personal level. People would bring it up, and say he was great, but it was a lot of conflicting emotions. I lived in Los Angeles when Chris was doing events and movies. I’d see a lot of Chris. He was going through fame, dealing with being a Wisconsin boy exposed to so much. I’m not just a fan, I’m family. So I’m caring for him, and making sure he was OK. Time heals things. I remember meeting Marino Franchitti, a famous race car driver, and he said, ‘Tommy Boy’s my favorite movie.’”