Unexpectedly Intriguing!
June 19, 2019

There are two main sources we draw upon for peering into the future for dividends in the S&P 500 (Index: SPX). The first of these is a relative newcomer, the CME Group's S&P 500 Quarterly Dividend Index Futures Quotes, which indicates the projected amount of dividends expected to be paid out to investors from the current quarter out to the same quarter a year from now.

The second source we use is IndexArb's Dividend Analysis, which we've been tracking regularly since early 2009, although it has been around for much longer.

Both these sources are linked to dividend futures contracts, which for a given quarter, indicates the amount of dividends per share that will be paid out from the expiration of the dividend futures contract on the third Friday of the month ending the preceding quarter through the third Friday of the month ending the indicated quarter. By contrast, when Standard and Poor reports the dividends paid out to shareholders for its S&P 500 index for a given quarter, it reports the total amount paid out "per share" for the index for an entire calendar quarter.

That said, we're seeing some differences between the CME Group and Index for S&P 500 dividend futures, particular for the fourth quarter of 2019. The following chart shows what these sources are telling us to expect for dividends in each quarter of 2019, as of the dividend futures available on 18 June 2019:

Conflicting Quarterly Dividend Futures for the S&P 500 in 2019, Snapshot on 18 June 2019

It may not look like it from the 84-cents per share difference between the two figures, but when projecting the future for the S&P 500, the difference in expectations between these two sources would be magnified into a 200 point difference in the projected value of the S&P 500 should investors come to focus upon 2019-Q4 in setting current day stock prices, compared to what we presented earlier this week, all because our alternative futures chart reflects only the CME Group's futures data.

One or both of these two projections for 2019-Q4's dividends per share is wrong. Which do you suppose is more wrong?


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