Unexpectedly Intriguing!
June 6, 2019

May 2019 provided some relief for investors compared to recent months, with a rising number of dividend increases and a falling number of dividend decreases.

The following chart shows the monthly increases and decreases for dividends reported by Standard and Poor for each month from January 2004 through May 2019, where perhaps the biggest news is that the reported number of dividend cuts for the month dropped below the level that's associated with recessionary conditions being present in the U.S. economy.

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

Year-over-year however, the story is more mixed. Perhaps the figure that best defines May 2019 compared to a year ago is the number of dividend increases, where fewer firms are raising their dividends in 2019 than did in 2018, which suggests the business outlook for U.S. firms has dimmed. Here is that bit of metadata along with all the other dividend numbers for May 2019:

  • In May 2019, 3,929 U.S. firms declared dividends, an increase of 822 over the 3,107 recorded in April 2019. That figure is also an increase of 281 over the number recorded in May 2018's total of 3,648.
  • 40 U.S. firms announced they would pay a special (or extra) dividend to their shareholders in May 2019, an increase of 8 over the number recorded in April 2019, and also a a decrease of 3 from the total recorded a year earlier in May 2018.
  • A total of 162 U.S. firms announced they would increase their dividend payments to shareholders in May 2019, an increase of 5 over the number recorded in April 2019, and a decrease of 20 from the 182 dividend rises declared back in May 2018.
  • A total of 16 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in May 2019, a decline of 13 from the number recorded in April 2019 and also a decrease of 7 from the 23 recorded in May 2018.
  • 1 U.S. firm omitted paying their dividends in May 2019, the same as the number recorded in April 2019. That figure is also a decrease of 3 from the total of 4 firms that omitted paying dividends back in May 2018.

References

Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 31 May 2019.

Seeking Alpha Market Currents. Filtered for Dividends. [Online Database]. Accessed 31 May 2019.

Wall Street Journal. Dividend Declarations. [Online Database]. Accessed 31 May 2019.

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