"I know how important it (the dividend) is to investors," Mulally told me. "We will pay a dividend sooner rather than later."
The dividend question is a good problem for Ford. It's a reflection of a balance sheet that has gone from highly leveraged four years ago, to becoming profitable and strong today. After earning a net income of $1.6 billion in the third quarter, Ford now sits on $31 billion in automotive liquidity and $20.8 billion in gross cash. Meanwhile it has just $12.7 billion in debt.
In other words, Ford is flush and investors want some of that money. But Mulally is conservative by nature. And as much as he wants to add a pay out to Ford investors, and is committed to making it happen, he's taking his time. As we ended our conversation I said to him, "You know, this is going to be the main focus on the earnings call today?". He chuckled as said, "Oh I know. We know how much people want to know about the dividend."
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