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Battered Ford still offers an unmatched investment perk

24/7 Wall St. logo 24/7 Wall St. 5/9/2019 Douglas A. McIntyre

Ford has been in the stock market doghouse for a long time. Its share price is down 34% over the past five years, while the S&P 500 is higher by 53%. Despite trouble with its sales in the United States and the world's largest car market, China, it continues to pay one of the richest dividends of all American companies. Ford's yield is 5.74%.

Unlike some companies with high payouts, Ford's dividend is not in jeopardy. In its first quarter, Ford made $1.1 billion. Its cash flow from operating activities was $3.5 billion. The company has $37 billion in cash and marketable securities.

Another reason the dividend will stay intact is the Ford family. Via the company's dual share structure, the Ford-owned Class B shares have 40% of the shareholding voting rights. Family member William Clay Ford Jr. has more power than CEO James Hackett. Ford virtually controls the board of directors. The annual payout to the family has been estimated at $42 million.

Ford's stock may not recover, which is a reason for it to be valued for the payout. Ford has been late to the self-driving car business. It competes with almost every car company in the world for advancement in this field. Moreover, tech firms like Alphabet have their own self-driving car units. Ford has similar challenges with electric cars. The arena is crowded, and Ford has neither the tech lead nor electric car market share position to claim it has any advantages.

Ford remains the No. 2 car company in the United States, which is likely its single major advantage as a company. As mentioned, the world's largest car market is China. However, Ford's rapid growth period there is over, and sales in the region actually may be in a long-term decline.

Ford's enduring strength is a single vehicle, the F-Series pickup. It has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for decades. That position will not be challenged in the foreseeable future. That gives it a tremendous sales anchor, the path to substantial U.S. revenue and profits.

Ford may not be the top car company in the world, but it is successful enough at least to keep one of the richest payouts of any American public corporation.

Related video: Ford's rebound just getting started — it's the only auto stock Jim Cramer endorses (provided by CNBC)



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