Alan Mulally will likely retire and be replaced as CEO of Ford Motor by chief operating officer Mark Fields by the end of 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Fields could stake over the chief executive position as soon as May 1, according to some media reports. A Ford spokeswoman would not comment on the reports, only saying that "Nothing has changed from the previous announcement." In November 2012, Ford announced the promotion of Fields, 53, formerly president of the company's Americas division, as chief operating officer, tasked with managing business operations. Meanwhile CEO Mulally oversaw strategic development, and Ford at the time said he was expected to remain in that job "through at least 2014." Mulally, a former top executive at Boeing, won strong reviews for his leadership of Ford, helping it avoid a government bailout during the financial crisis The number two US automaker notched impressive sales growth under Mulally. Earnings rose 26.3 percent in 2013 to $7.2 billion. In late 2013 and early 2014, he was frequently mentioned as a candidate to lead Microsoft, but the software giant ultimately turned inward for a new CEO, choosing Satya Nadella. Ford shares fell 0.13 percent to $15.98.