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Ford to resume paying quarterly dividend

Ford said Thursday it will resume paying a dividend this spring for the first time since 2006.

The dividend is payable March 1, 2012, to shareholders of record of Class B and common stock on Jan. 31, 2012, Ford said.

The automaker had stopped paying a dividend in September 2006 when it was deeply in debt. But Ford now says it had made enough improvements in its balance sheet to resume the dividend.

“We have made tremendous progress in reducing debt and generating consistent positive earnings and cash flow,” Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford, said in a statement.

“The board believes it is important to share the benefits of our improved financial performance with our shareholders. We are pleased to reinstate a quarterly dividend, as it is an important sign of our progress in building a profitably growing company and our confidence in the future.”

Lewis Booth, Ford’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the company’s strong liquidity and balance sheet improvements provide the underlying financial strength to resume paying a quarterly dividend.

“Building a strong balance sheet that supports our growth plans remains a core part of our One Ford strategy,” said Booth. “We have demonstrated our capability to finance our plans and we are confident that we can begin to pay a dividend that will be sustainable through economic cycles.”

Ford reported its 10th straight profitable quarter in the third quarter of this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.