NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ford (F) shares had spiked by early afternoon, climbing 2.4% to $15.90. Earlier, the automaker announced it would pay a first-quarter 2014 dividend of 12.5 cents a share, up a surprising 25% from the 2013 quarterly dividend rate of 10 cents a share. The Michigan-based business said a strong 2013 performance, a solid balance sheet and increased liquidity enabled the increase.
"Our capital strategy continues to be focused on financing our One Ford plan, further strengthening our balance sheet and providing attractive returns to our shareholders," said CFO Bob Shanks. "This increase ... provides our shareholders with a regular, growing dividend that we believe is sustainable over an economic or business cycle."
The first-quarter dividend is payable on March 3 for shareholders of record at close of business Jan. 31.
A day earlier, shares surged on the confirmation CEO Alan Mulally would remain at the helm of the automaker despite talk he had been offered the top job at Microsoft (MSFT). For months, Mulally has been pegged as the successor to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer once he retires in the coming months.
TheStreet Ratings team rates FORD MOTOR CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B. The team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate FORD MOTOR CO (F) a BUY. This is driven by a number of strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in stock price during the past year, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."