Unexpectedly Intriguing!
June 5, 2018

For dividends in the U.S. stock market, May 2018 fell pretty much in the middle of every other May during the previous five years.

Nothing particularly exciting or worrying, just a pretty solid month for dividend-paying stocks overall.

Number of Public U.S. Companies Increasing or Decreasing Dividends in Each Month from January 2004 through May 2018

Let's run through the numbers for May 2018's dividends....

  • 3,648 U.S. firms declared their dividends during May 2018, which is up from April 2018's 3,388 and which is also up from May 2017's 3,536.
  • In May 2018, 43 firms in the U.S. announced that they would pay an extra, or special, dividend to their shareholders, which is up from the 34 firms that made similar announcements in April 2018, but down from the 48 extra dividends that were announced in May 2017.
  • No fewer than 182 firms acted to increase their dividend payouts in May 2018, down slightly from the 189 dividend hikes of April 2018, and similarly down from the 190 dividend rises of one year ago.
  • There were 23 dividend cut announcements made during May 2018, while another 4 firms omitted paying their dividends during the month, for a combined total of 28. That compares with 16 dividend cutters and 4 dividend omitters in April 2018 (combining for a total of 20) and also with the 18 dividend cuts and 10 dividend omissions that were declared in May 2017 (a combined total of 28).

Focusing in closer on the firms that cut their dividends during May 2018, our two near-real time sources for dividend declarations captured 18 of the 23 reductions that were announced during the month. Here's the list:

Half of these firms hail from the U.S. oil and gas industry, where most of these firms are monthly dividend payers that distribute their variable earnings to their shareholders each month. We do note that the number of firms in this industry is elevated because of a March 2018 tax rule change that negatively affects the earnings of a number of firms set up as Master Limited Partnerships (MLP), many of which operate pipelines.

Meanwhile, the finance industry made up one-third of the dividend reductions in our sample for May 2018, while the healthcare and technology sectors made up the balance for the month.

Data Sources

Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 1 June 2018.

Seeking Alpha Market Currents. Filtered for Dividends. [Online Database]. Accessed 1 June 2018.

Wall Street Journal. Dividend Declarations. [Online Database]. Accessed Accessed 1 June 2018.

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