Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) announced today that its board of directors have declared a 10 cents per share dividend for the first quarter on the company's common and outstanding Class B stock. This is double the dividend Ford paid in each quarter of 2012. Under its One Ford goal, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company is willing to deliver profitable growth to all stakeholders. Ford said the dividends will be paid on March 1, 2013 to shareholders on record as of January 30, 2013. It will add up to $1.6 billion in dividends for the full year.
Standard & Poor's Rating Services said after the announcement that doubling the quarterly dividend payout will not affect the outlook or ratings on the company. S&P maintains its "positive" outlook with BB+ rating on Ford, just one notch below the investment grade. Now S&P is the only rating agency to have Ford below investment grade. Standard & Poor estimate Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) will generate $2 to $3 billion in the minimum annual automotive operating cash flow for its current rating, which remains higher than the dividend.
S&P said that Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has the capabilities to keep improving its capital structure despite doubling the dividend, and can sustain liquidity of over $30 billion. However, the weak European markets can dampen cash flow prospects.
Ford's chief executive, Alan Mulally, is working hard to reverse the overseas losses, especially in Europe. European markets account for over 25 percent of Ford's total revenue. The automaker’s chief financial officer, Bob Shanks, said the European market is worse than the company anticipated, and it will remain challenging for the next five years.
Several analysts have advised Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) to shut down its plants in Europe. The company uses only 63 percent of its total production capacity there. S&P said it expects Ford to act with increasing commitment and decisiveness to turn around its European business amid the possibility of weak overall vehicle sales for several years to come. The rating agency wants to have a clear understanding of Ford's 2014 prospects for profitability before any upgrade.
Shares of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) were up 2.45 percent to $13.75 in New York trading.