Ford Suspends European Ops, IDC Revision May Hurt Microsoft, and 3 More Hot Stocks

Ford (NYSE:F): Ford has decided to suspend operations in its Romanian plant for one week in response to new demand schedules for its B-Max model. In a plant taken over from Romanian car manufacturer Craiova, nearly half of the workforce will remain at rest for the week’s duration. Combined with Ford’s decision to shut down two smaller plants in England and the company’s announcement to close an assembly line in Belgium, the Romanian suspension may indicate weakening auto sales in Ford’s European markets.

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT): Research firm IDC has adjusted its prediction of the decline in personal computer sales in 2013 from 7.8 percent to 9.7 percent due to the rise in popularity of other smart devices that are not computers. This could be bad news for Microsoft, which has a larger stake in the personal computer sector than some of its competitors. The announcement followed IDC’s original raise from 1.3 percent to 7.8 percent in May.

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Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD): Vodafone stands to acquire a large amount of cash — possibly as much as $130 billion — from its sale of its nearly 50 percent stake in Verizon (NYSE:VZ). Some investors think that the best use of the money is to pay back a large dividend to shareholders, while others feel that the money is better spent investing in the company’s infrastructure. With Vodafone’s recent acquisitions of companies in the cable business in Europe, it may be making a move to offer bundles of services to customers across the continent.

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Hertz (NYSE:HTZ): Hertz has announced that its Firefly brand, which caters to leisure travelers who are concerned about price, is slated to expand into the United States. The first location will open in Orlando in mid-September. This comes after Hertz got rid of its Advantage brand earlier this year, signaling that the company has been motivated by Firefly’s European success to not give up on the deep value leisure segment of the rental car industry.

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