Unexpectedly Intriguing!
March 5, 2019

For U.S. dividend paying companies, February 2019 was a down month, with a lower number of firms increasing their dividends and a higher number of firms announcing dividend cuts than in the same month a year ago.

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through February 2019

Here is the official tally for February 2019's dividend metadata from Standard and Poor:

  • In February 2019, 3,650 U.S. firms declared dividends, an increase of 1,174 over the 2,476 recorded in January 2019. That figure is also an increase of 157 over the number recorded in February 2018.
  • 42 U.S. firms announced they would pay an extra, or special, dividend to their shareholders in February 2019, an increase of 5 over the number recorded in January 2019, and also a an increase of 4 over February 2018's total.
  • A total of 292 U.S. firms announced they would increase their dividend payments to shareholders in February 2019, an increase of 75 over the number recorded in January 2019, and a decrease of 30 from the 322 dividend rises declared back in February 2018.
  • A total of 31 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in February 2019, an increase of 4 over the number recorded in January 2019 and also an increase of 11 over the 20 recorded in February 2018.
  • Just 1 U.S. firm omitted paying their dividends in February 2019, a decrease of 1 from the number recorded in January 2019. That figure is also a decrease of 8 from the number of firms that omitted paying dividends back in February 2018.

Looking closer at the dividend cuts, our near real-time sample captured 27 of the 31 announced dividend reductions for the month, led by financial firms and Real Estate Investment Trusts, followed by oil and gas sector, and technology firms, where these three industrial groupings accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total dividend decreases declared in February 2019. The following chart tallies up the number of firms announcing dividend cuts by their industrial sector.

Sampled Dividend Cuts in U.S. by Industrial Sector, February 2019

Here's our full sample of dividend-reducing firms for February 2019:

Of the 27 dividend-reducing firms in our sample for February 2019, 18 set their dividend payments independently of their earnings, while the remaining 9 pay out variable dividends to shareholders as a percentage of their earnings.

References

Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 28 February 2019.

Seeking Alpha Market Currents. Filtered for Dividends. [Online Database]. Accessed 28 February 2019.

Wall Street Journal. Dividend Declarations. [Online Database]. Accessed 28 February 2019.

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