Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Wait a Minute, What? (Dividends Dept.)

"With dividend payments at an all-time high..." (link). Wait a minute, what? I thought dividend payments had been trending down since 1978. Can this be right? Maybe so:
NEW YORK, April 3, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- S&P Indices announced today that dividend net increases (increases less decreases) reached $24.2 billion in the first quarter of 2012, a 27.6% rise over the $19.0 billion posted in the first quarter of 2011. S&P Indices reported 677 dividend increases during the first quarter of this year, a 32.7% jump over the 510 increases reported in during the first quarter of 2011. Thirty-one companies, of the approximately 7000 that report dividend information to S&P Indices, decreased their dividend in the first quarter of this year.

"Dividends had another great quarter, with actual cash payments increasing over 11% and the forward indicated dividend rate reaching a new all-time high, with or without Apple," says Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at S and P Indices. "Payout rates, which historically average 52%, remain near their lows at under 30%. At this point, we expect to see double-digit growth in actual dividend payments for the remainder of 2012, which would equate to a 16% gain over 2011."
 Link.  But wait, here's William Carney, in the teachers' manual for his excellent coursebook on corporate finance, referring to “…the steady decline in the payment of dividends since 1978."   Has Carney not been reading the papers? No, no, wait,  maybe  he's been looking at this:

Wait a minute, as the old canard goes, they can't both be right. Except maybe they can. Might be that dividends in (nominal) dollars are going up while dividends as a percentage are going down?Anyway, the chart ends in 2010; would an up-to-date chart show a flip in the tail? 

  H/T: Jared; Bob H.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dividend yield equals dividend divided by price. Since prices are far more volatile than dividends, when dividend yield changes, that almost always because price have changed. Dividend yields have declined since 1978 because prices have risen far more than dividends. Don't blame dividends -- since 1978, they have risen faster than inflation. Blame prices -- they have risen far, far faster than inflation.