DETROIT, OCT. 8 -- Fat with profits, Ford Motor Co. raised its quarterly dividend today to $1 a share from the previous 75 cents and announced plans for a 2-for-1 stock split.
Jack Kirnan, who follows the stock for Kidder Peabody & Co., a New York brokerage firm, said analysts generally expected a dividend increase of 10 or 15 cents a share, not 25 cents. "Maybe Ford was really trying to highlight how impressive their growth is and their earnings are... . It is far and away the most profitable car company in the world now," he said.
On the nation's stock markets, Ford's stock closed at $94.50, down 88 cents from Wednesday, well below a record $112.63 reached earlier this year.
Last year, Ford's profits exceeded those of General Motors Corp. for the first time since the 1920s. Ford outdid GM again in the first half of 1987 with record profits of $3 billion, up 65 percent from a year earlier. GM's stock dropped $2 today to $76.25.
For people who rely on its dividends, Ford's turnaround has been striking. During the recession of the early 1980s, the company paid no dividends for a year and a half.
It began paying again in 1983 at a rate equivalent to 13.5 cents a share (adjusted for later stock splits). It has boosted the rate eight times since then.