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Ford Credit Rating Cut By S&P, Moody's

September 20, 2006

Two rating agencies recently lowered Ford Motor Co.’s credit rating, four days after the company announced a revised turnaround plan that calls for 10,000 white-collar job cuts and two additional plant closures, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Moody’s Investors Service lowered Ford’s rating to B3 from B2 and the rating of its financing arm, Ford Motor Credit Co., to B1 from Ba3. Standard and Poor’s Rating Services lowered the long-term ratings of Ford and Ford Credit from B to B-plus and their short-term ratings to B-3 from B-2.

Both ratings services had put Ford on review for possible downgrade on Aug. 18, the day the automaker said it would temporarily halt production at 10 assembly plants in order to reduce inventories.

Both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s said they were concerned about the recent market shift away from pickups and SUVs and more toward fuel-efficient cars. Ford has acknowledged it was unprepared for the speed of that shift.

Moody’s analyst Bruce Clark said in a statement, “Ford will also have to be consistently successful in executing each element of this plan with out any major missteps. If it doesn’t remain solidly on track for re-establishing a viable business model by 2009, additional restructurings would likely be necessary. But by then the company will have run through much of its liquidity.”

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