Autos

Ford May Cut Dividend Soon

Douglas A. McIntyre

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) has one of the largest dividend yields of any major U.S. company. At this point, it sits at 11.2% ($0.60 per share). Ford cannot maintain that dividend if its sales in China continue to plunge and American sales begin a sharp decline, which they almost certainly will.

One of the most notable things about big business since the rapid spread of COVID-19 is that they have begun to draw down most or all of their credit facilities as they worry about a lack of access to capital. Ford’s high costs and the strong chance of a cratering of revenue put it in a spot that is no better.

Reuters already has reported a sharp drop in foot traffic to car dealers. In some cases, those declines are already 30%. The chances that car sales in the United States will top 17 million as they have for four years are close to impossible. It is easy to see that a drop below 15 million is possible.

Among the recent news that shows retail outlets of all kinds are in trouble is that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has closed all its retail stores outside China. This kind of reaction by companies with many branches or stores will continue.

Ford has $34 billion in cash and cash equivalents at the end of 2019. It will want to continue its $11 billion restructurings, to the extent that it can.

RBC Capital Markets told Bloomberg that Ford would need to cut its dividend to preserve capital. It was almost certainly right.