Shareholders in companies listed on the world’s stock markets pocketed more than half a trillion dollars in dividends during the second quarter of the year, a record for investors’ payouts.
But despite dividends hitting an all-time quarterly high of $513.8bn (£423bn), the pace of year-on-year growth slowed to just 1.1%, compared with 14% this time last year.
Analysts at the asset manager Janus Henderson, which collated the figures from the 1,200 largest listed companies, said this slowdown reflected a weakening global economy and the strength of the dollar.
Financial and energy companies, largely oil and gas, increased their dividends faster than other sectors on an underlying basis, stripping out currency effects and one-off payouts. Banks and other financial companies handed out dividends that were 9.9% higher, and energy companies handed out an 6% increase.
Investors in the fast-growing technology sector, who have seen their dividend income triple over 10 years, had to accept a rare decrease after cuts at Nokia and Samsung.
Ben Lofthouse, head of global equity income at Janus Henderson, said: “At this stage in the economic cycle, we are seeing a moderation of dividend increases across a broad range of companies, and the number of cuts is on the rise, too.
“Global dividends have been growing very quickly over the last two years, however, so the slowdown we are now seeing is not a cause for concern. The underlying growth rate we expect this year is simply in line with the long-run average, rather than well ahead of it.
“The impact of the global economic slowdown is greater in some parts of the world than others, with Europe seeing a particular impact. But this is why taking a global approach to income investing is so valuable – the regional and sector diversification brings significant benefits to investors.”
Shareholders in British companies enjoyed an 8.6% rise in payouts, which reached a quarterly record of $35bn thanks to a $4.2bn boost from special dividends paid by Rio Tinto and Royal Bank of Scotland. The growth was in line with the global average of 5.3% once the impact of one-off payouts and the robust dollar were filtered out.
The strength of the US currency means that dividends paid out in sterling and other struggling currencies are lower when reported in dollar terms.
Investors scouring global markets for growth will have done well if they put their money in stocks from Japan, where payouts rose 10%, or emerging markets such as Brazil, China, India and Turkey, up 12.6% on average.
Janus Henderson said its forecast of global dividend payouts for the year remains unchanged at $1.43tn, an annual increase of 4.2%.
source – https://www.theguardian.com