Unexpectedly Intriguing!
December 1, 2015

How many U.S. companies have cut their dividends through this point of the fourth quarter of 2015 as compared to the same point of time in the previous the previous three quarters of 2015?

The answer to that question is visualized below:

Cumulative Dividend Cuts by Day of Quarter, 2015Q1 v 2015Q2 v 2015Q3 v 2015Q4, Snapshot on 2015-11-30

What we see is that after tracking along with the trajectory taken by dividend cutting companies in the first quarter of 2015, sometime in mid-November, fewer U.S. companies began announcing that they were cutting their dividends. As a result, we find the state of the U.S. economy as measured by the number of firms cutting dividends to now fall in the borderline region between recessionary conditions being present in the economy and outright economic contraction.

We wondered though how the trajectory of 2015-Q4 might be affected by the timing of the Thanksgiving holiday, where presumably the leaders of many companies would also be taking an extended holiday, which is a factor that would not be present in the previous three quarters of 2015.

So we went the extra mile and compared the number of companies cutting dividends in each day of the fourth quarter of 2015 with the number that did in each day of the fourth quarter of 2014.

Cumulative Dividend Cuts by Day of Quarter, 2015Q4 v 2014Q4, Snapshot on 2015-11-30

What we find is that the current quarter is tracking along almost identically with what happened a year earlier. Which is significant in that the U.S. economy was in the process of rapidly decelerating to stall speed following a strong third quarter in 2014.

And at this point in the fourth quarter of 2015, history appears set to repeat itself. Almost exactly.

Data Sources

Seeking Alpha Market Currents. Filtered for Dividends. [Online Database]. Accessed 1 December 2015.

Wall Street Journal. Dividend Declarations. [Online Database]. Accessed 1 December 2015.


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