Ford doubles dividend to 10 cents a share amid record profit margins image

Ford doubled its quarterly dividend to 10 cents a share after record profit margins boosted its cash reserves.

The second-largest U.S. automaker announced its first-quarter dividend will be payable March 1 to shareholders of record on January 30. Ford, which resumed paying a dividend last year after a five-year break, cited its strengthening business as the reason for increasing the payout.

“Our ability to double our dividend in one year is a testament to our One Ford plan, which has enabled us to maintain a solid balance sheet, while at the same time growing our business to provide our shareholders with more return on their investments,” said Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer. Ford’s plan is to grow its dividend, consistent with earnings and liquidity growth, to a level that is sustainable through all business cycles.

Through the first three quarters of 2012, Ford increased its liquidity position by $2 billion and generated 10 consecutive quarters of positive automotive operating-related cash flow. Ford earned $6.47 billion before taxes in North America in 2012’s first nine months, more than it made in the region for all of 2011. Operating profit margin in North America was 11.2 percent during the period, in an industry where a 5 percent margin is respectable.

Ford has had 14 consecutive quarters of net income as the company boosted margins through its One Ford global product development plan.