Ford dividend payment due in March

Dec 9, 2011, 10:03 by R.E. Christian

Ford Motor Co.'s decision to resume paying a dividend of 5 cents a share next year shows confidence in the Detroit automaker's recovery, analysts said.

The dividend payment, payable in March, is the company's first since September 2006 and the first paid on common stock by any automaker since July 2008, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday.

The dividend, announced Thursday, is payable to shareholders of record on Jan. 31, 2012.

Despite the announcement, The company's stock fell 2.98 percent to $10.75 a share.

Even though major credit rating agencies haven't raised Ford to investment-grade status, meaning it can borrow money at lower interest rates, Ford bonds traded higher Thursday.

Moody's Investor Services, in a statement, said Ford's finances are strong enough to justify a dividend.

"It is well supported by the level of free cash flow Ford should generate during 2012," said Bruce Clark, a senior vice president at Moody's.

The dividend payment will cost Ford about $200 million per quarter to cover the approximately 4 billion shares outstanding, the Free Press said. The Ford family owns 70.85 million of Ford's Class B shares for a collective quarterly payout of $3.54 million.

As of Sept. 30, Ford had $20.8 billion in cash and securities and access to $8.9 billion in credit lines.

Citi Investment Research analyst Itay Michaeli said in a client report the restructuring by all Detroit automakers created "a new auto platform where companies can feel confident paying dividends" even in a shaky global environment.

Source: UPI