(Corrects eighth paragraph to show Executive Chairman Bill Ford
is Henry Ford's great-grandson, not his grandson)
By Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, Del. May 9 The executive chairman
of Ford Motor Co asked for patience from investors who
pressed him about the company's languishing stock price at the
automaker's annual meeting on Thursday.
Despite 15 straight profitable quarters, Ford's share price
has lagged the S&P 500's gains for about two years. The stock
was little changed at $14.22 on Thursday afternoon.
"Just hang with us," Bill Ford said in response to two
questions about the company's stock. "Our performance has been
Ford and Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally emphasized
record profits and margins and a turnaround plan in Europe,
although the automaker expects to lose another $2 billion on the
continent this year due to a deep economic downturn.
Chief Financial Officer Robert Shanks also urged
shareholders to take a long view regarding growth outside the
United States. He said heavy investment in Asia would begin to
pay off and allow Ford to rely less heavily on the U.S. market.
"So just a little more time and you'll see all parts of the
company humming quite nicely," Shanks told shareholders.
A shareholder proposal to strip the Ford family of its 16
votes per share received the strongest support ever, with
support of 33.4 percent of votes. Ford recommended against the
proposal. Last year, 29.5 percent voted for it, according to
Ford spokesman Jay Cooney.
"Having the family vote and ownership position really
allowed the company to stay focused and not get distracted and
survive and ultimately thrive," said Bill Ford, great-grandson
of founder Henry Ford, told the press after the meeting.
Stockholders approved the board's recommended slate of
directors, executive incentive plan and expressed support for
executive pay. About 70 shareholders attended the meeting in
Wilmington. Ford is incorporated in Delaware.
(Reporting By Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by