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NEWS

Global corporate dividends hit record $1.66 trillion in 2023

By Lucy Raitano

LONDON (Reuters) – Corporate dividends globally hit an all-time high of $1.66 trillion in 2023, with record payouts by banks making up half of the growth, a report showed on Wednesday.

On a worldwide basis, 86% of listed companies either increased dividends or maintained them, according to the quarterly Janus Henderson Global Dividend Index (JHGDI) report, which also forecast that dividend payouts would hit a new record of $1.72 trillion this year.

The world’s biggest dividend payers in 2023 were Microsoft, followed by Apple and Exxon Mobil.

The total value of corporate dividends rose from $1.57 trillion in 2022 with underlying growth – which accounts for currency movements, special dividends, timing changes and index changes – of 5% from 2022, UK asset manager Janus Henderson said.

“Corporate cash flow in most sectors remained strong and this provided plenty of firepower for dividends and share buybacks,” said Ben Lofthouse, head of global equity income at Janus Henderson.

According to LSEG data, earnings growth for the S&P 500 in the fourth quarter of 2023 was expected to come in at 9% year-on-year.

High interest rates have boosted bank margins and banks paid out a record $220 billion to shareholders in 2023, an underlying rise of 15% from 2022 and continuing a rebound after bank payouts were frozen during the pandemic.

Any positive impact from higher banking dividends was almost entirely offset by cuts from the mining sector, the report found, as lower commodity prices weighed on mining profits.

Hefty dividend cuts by five prominent companies – miners BHP and Rio Tinto as well as Petrobras, Intel and AT&T – reduced the underlying 2023 global dividend growth rate by 2 percentage points.

“Beyond these two sectors (banking and mining), whose impact was unusually large, we saw encouraging growth from industries as varied as vehicles, utilities, software, food and engineering, demonstrating the importance of a diversified portfolio,” the report said.

On a geographical basis, Europe (excluding the UK), was a key growth driver, contributing two-fifths of the global increase as payouts rose 10.4% on an underlying basis to $300.7 billion.

Japan was also a major contributor, though it was somewhat tempered by a weak yen, the report said.

While the United States made the most significant contribution to global dividend growth due to its size, a 5.1% growth rate was in line with the global average.

Emerging markets dividends were flat on an underlying basis, with Janus Henderson highlighting steep cuts in Brazil and lacklustre growth in China.

Janus Henderson sees another 5% growth in corporate dividends this year to $1.72 trillion.

Even though the rapid increase in bank dividends is likely to slow, rapid declines from the mining sector might also be less impactful, said Lofthouse.

“Energy prices remain firm so oil dividends look well supported and the big defensive sectors like healthcare, food and basic consumer goods should continue to make steady progress.”

 

(Reporting by Lucy Raitano; Editing by Amanda Cooper and Susan Fenton)

 

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