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Ford plans $14B in cost cuts as part of new CEO's strategy

Published: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 @ 12:16 PM
Updated: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 @ 12:14 PM

Ford Motor Co.'s new CEO plans to cut $14 billion in costs, drop some car models and focus the company's resources on trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles as part of a renewed effort to win over skeptical investors.

Jim Hackett, who became Ford's CEO in May, met with around 100 investors in New York Tuesday to lay out his plans for the future. He said getting the company lean and flexible will help it handle the changes the auto industry is facing, from car-sharing to self-driving vehicles, to the shift to electric cars.

"I feel a real sense of urgency for what we're doing here," Hackett said.

Hackett and his executive team spent the summer reevaluating Ford's operations after former CEO Mark Fields was ousted in May. Hackett traveled to Russia and Turkey and visited North American plants and Ford's Silicon Valley research center as part of his review.

He said he was impressed by the talent at Ford, but wants to update factories and speed product development and decision-making. One of his first moves was to pare down the number of people reporting to him. Hackett has eight direct reports, compared to 18 for Fields.

Ford told investors it expects to reduce material costs by $10 billion by 2022 through new deals with suppliers and simpler designs. The company plans to share more parts between vehicles and reduce the options available for configuring a car. For example, customers can now order a Ford Fusion sedan in 35,000 possible combinations. Ford is reducing that to 96.

Ford also says it will cut $4 billion in engineering costs through 2022 by making fewer prototypes and reducing product-development time.

It plans to cut one-third of its engine development costs and redeploy them to electric and hybrid vehicles. Ford plans to introduce 13 new electrics and hybrids over the next five years, including a small electric SUV coming in 2020.

The company plans to reallocate $7 billion from cars to SUVs and trucks. Global demand for those vehicles is rising, and they are critical to Ford's bottom line. Jim Farley, head of Ford's global markets, said Ford plans more off-road SUVs like the upcoming Bronco for North America and more low-end small SUVs and seven-passenger SUVs for China.

The automaker plans to cut some cars from its lineup, but didn't name them Tuesday. Farley said Ford will still offer small cars, like the Focus, but will stick to more expensive — and more profitable — versions.

Ford emphasized that it's open to new partnerships, such as its recent agreement with Indian automaker Mahindra Group to cooperate on mobility, electric cars and other projects. It is also working with ride-hailing company Lyft on self-driving technology and with China's Zotye Automobile Co. about an electric car partnership.

The company says its vehicles will get smarter, with 90 percent of its global vehicles getting modem connectivity by 2020. That will allow things like software updates or apps that help drivers find parking. Ford can differentiate itself by offering, say, connected commercial vans that help small businesses keep track of their deliveries.

Marcy Klevorn, Ford's head of mobility, said Ford launched a medical van service eight weeks ago that can pick up wheelchair-bound patients and take them to the doctor. The service uses Ford-developed software for scheduling appointments, and it will help the company figure out ways that consumers will eventually use self-driving vehicles.

"We have created a box of assets that we can pull out and use for various things," Klevorn said.

Ford stuck to its previous guidance for 2017 on Tuesday. The company expects adjusted earnings of $1.65 to $1.85 for the full year. Ford earned $1.76 per share 2016.

Hackett, the former CEO of office furniture company Steelcase Inc., joined Ford's board in 2013. He briefly led Ford's mobility unit before being tapped as CEO.

Ford hired Hackett, in part, to turn around its share price, which has languished for the last two years even as rival General Motors Co. saw its shares rise to their highest level in seven years. Ford sunk below Tesla Inc. in market value earlier this year, even though it earned $4.6 billion in 2016 and Tesla has never made a full-year profit.

Ford's shares rose 2 percent to close at $12.34 Tuesday before Hackett's presentation. It's not yet clear if his pitch will improve investors' confidence.

"Straddling the now and the future will be tricky, especially in terms of profitability," said Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst for the car-buying site Autotrader.com.

Investors have been critical of Ford for waiting too long to bring a long-range electric vehicle to market, as GM did with the Chevrolet Bolt. They also struggled to understand Ford's plans to compete on autonomous cars.

"In the past few years, Ford simply hasn't had a compelling narrative that investors could latch onto," Barclay's analyst Brian Johnson wrote in a recent note to investors.

Men accused of pouring insecticide in Walmart toy department

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 4:03 PM

Two men are seen in surveillance footage at a Walmart in Millington, Tennessee, after police say they intentionally poured insecticide in the children's toy department of a Walmart on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017.
Millington Police Department
Two men are seen in surveillance footage at a Walmart in Millington, Tennessee, after police say they intentionally poured insecticide in the children's toy department of a Walmart on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017.(Millington Police Department)

Two men are accused of pouring insecticide in the children's toy department of a Tennessee Walmart over the weekend, according to authorities.

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Millington police said the incident happened Sunday. 

The men were seen on video "vandalizing property and intentionally spilling insecticide chemicals in the children's toy department," according to a news release.

Officers said the men left the scene in a white pick-up truck that had two stripes down the center.

Authorities continued to search for the men Monday.

The City of Millington Police Department is asking for your assistance to identify these suspects. They are persons of...

Posted by Millington Tennessee Police Department on Monday, October 23, 2017

Defense attorney collapses, dies during closing arguments in murder trial

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 10:44 AM

Attorney Collapses And Dies During Closing Arguments In Trial

An Alabama defense attorney is being remembered for her dedication to her clients after she collapsed Thursday while delivering closing arguments in a murder trial. 

Jean Darby, a well-known defense attorney in Lauderdale County, died Saturday at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital, according to the Times-Daily in Florence. She was 64 years old. 

Darby was in the middle of closing arguments in the trial of Alfonzo Jarmon when witnesses said she appeared to stumble. She caught herself on the jury box, then collapsed, the newspaper said.

WHNT News 19 in Huntsville reported that Darby remarked to jurors moments before her collapse about how tiring the case must have been for them because it had exhausted her as well. 

Law enforcement officers, along with a juror who was a registered nurse, performed CPR until paramedics arrived, the Times-Daily reported. Darby was taken to the hospital, where doctors suspected she may have suffered a brain aneurysm or a stroke. 

Her cause of death was not immediately known. 

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Jarmon, 34, was accused of fatally shooting 77-year-old Charles Hugh Perkins on April 29, 2016, in the yard of Perkins’ home. The men lived next door to one another. 

The Times-Daily reported that witnesses testified they saw Jarmon shove the elderly man before grabbing his hand and pulling a gun. Jarmon shot Perkins in the head.

Jurors, who told the trial judge on Friday that they could proceed without Darby, deliberated for about 30 minutes before finding Jarmon guilty of murder, the newspaper said. Lauderdale County Judge Gil Self appointed attorneys to represent Jarmon in Darby’s place. 

Jarmon faces life in prison when he is sentenced in December. 

Colleagues mourned the loss of Darby, who was described as a humble woman who did her best to serve others.

District Judge Carole Medley, who was at the hospital awaiting Darby’s test results before her death, described her as “one of the most well-respected and well-thought-of attorneys in (the Florence) area.”

“She worked extraordinarily hard to be sure anybody she represented had all the rights the law allows,” former prosecutor and Judge Mike Jones told the Times-Daily

Neighbors make sure 95-year-old WWII is comfortable during daily walk

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 3:09 PM

Neighbors Offer Support and Rest For WWII Veteran

Harvey Djerf , a 95-year-old World War II veteran, doesn’t let his age stop him from taking his daily walks.

He takes the sojourns twice a day, all year long, and he’s been doing it for 65 years, Inside Edition reported.

But his neighbors are keeping an eye out for Djerf.

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Every so often, a random chair has been left out for Djerf to take a load off when he’s out for his walks.

“People saw me stopping and catching my breath,” Djerf told KARE. “They figured maybe Harvey needs a place to rest.”

Tom and Melanie Heuerman saw Harvey taking a break in other neighbors’ chairs. That’s when they added another one to his route.

The winter doesn’t stop Djerf, either, and his neighbors make sure Djerf can get safely to his seat by shoveling a path to his chairs, KARE reported.

Djerf said his walks keep him going and give him something to do since his wife, 95, suffered a stroke last year and has been living at an assisted living facility, Inside Edition reported.

Argument over shopping cart leads to fight at Walmart

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 2:55 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Video of a shocking fight at a Cordova Walmart has gone viral. Police told FOX13 one woman was sent to a hospital as a result of the brawl.

According to a police report, officers were flagged down by a customer who was complaining that a woman was fighting inside the business.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found another woman on the ground with bruises. Police said she was crying.

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A Walmart manager told police he was stacking items when he heard a loud commotion and walked toward it. The manager said he then noticed two women fighting on the ground, and he tried to separate them.

Another witness told police that one woman asked another woman about a rolling cart and she replied, “Maybe other customers are using them if nothing is over there.”

Officers said the other woman became very angry, and she asked for a manager and then punched the clerk. The clerk punched the woman back, according to the report.

Police said other witnesses said the woman struck another clerk, as well. Both women who work at Walmart refused to prosecute.

One woman was transported to Baptist East in noncritical condition.

Walmart sent FOX13 the following statement:

“We work to provide a safe and secure environment for everyone in our stores. What is seen in this video is disturbing, and we are reviewing the situation to fully understand what happened.”