Ford Motor Co. said its directors have voted to keep its regular common stock dividend at 75 cents a share, resisting pressure to cut it as the automaker fights a recession.

The nation's No. 2 carmaker made the announcement Thursday after some analysts speculated that sagging sales, plunging consumer confidence and economic uncertainty because of the Middle East crisis would force a cut in the dividend.General Motors Corp.'s board meets next month to consider its 75-cents-a-share quarterly dividend and Chrysler Corp.'s board meets in March to talk about its dividend of 30 cents a share.

The dividend is the amount of money, on a per-share basis, a company pays its stockholders as a return on their investments. There were about 287,000 shares of Ford common stock outstanding as of last May, company officials said. That number has dropped somewhat since then because of a company stock repurchase program.

Ford last cut its dividend - in fact, eliminated it - in the first quarter of 1982. The company paid no dividend for a year and a half.

It reinstated the dividend in the third quarter of 1983 at a value of 6.7 cents a share, a figure adjusted for later splits. After that, as Ford's profits rocketed in the mid- to late-1980s, the dividend increased to 75 cents a share, set in the first quarter of 1989.

But as 1989 ended and the new decade began, the fortunes of Ford and other automakers began to tumble. Car and truck sales went soft, the economy worsened and the Mideast crisis clobbered consumer confidence.