Unexpectedly Intriguing!
03 December 2020

Like the month that preceded it, November 2020 was a strong month for dividend paying stocks in the U.S. stock market.

In the year of the coronavirus recession however, that strength is a relative measure. Compared to previous months, the market appears strong. Compared to a year ago, the market looks like its been whacked, which in truth, it has.

Both observations for November 2020 can be seen in a chart tracking the number of dividend increases and reductions announced in each month since January 2004.

Number of Publicly-Traded U.S. Companies Either Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 - November 2020

Here's our tally of the U.S. stock market's dividend metadata for November 2020:

  • A total of 3,125 U.S. firms declared dividends in November 2020, an increase of 93 over the 3,032 recorded in October 2020. That figure is 248 lower than what was recorded a year ago in November 2019.
  • 78 U.S. firms announced they would pay a special (or extra) dividend to their shareholders in November 2020, an increase of 45 over the number recorded in October 2020 and an increase of one over the number recorded a year ago in November 2019. This figure typically peaks in December each year, but that peak is often conditional on investor expectations for the U.S. government's future tax policy.
  • 125 U.S. firms announced they would boost cash dividend payments to shareholders in November 2020, a decrease of 60 from the 185 recorded in October 2020, and a decrease of 25 from the 150 dividend rises declared back in November 2019.
  • A total of 15 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in November 2020, an increase of 2 over the number recorded in October 2020 and also a decrease of 9 from the 24 recorded in November 2019.
  • Just one U.S. firm omitted paying their dividends in November 2020, the same as the number recorded in October 2020. That figure is also a decrease of three from the total of four firms that omitted paying dividends back in November 2019.

Our near real time sampling of dividends, taken from Seeking Alpha's Market News (filtered for Dividends) and the Wall Street Journal's Dividend Declarations database, identified 14 of the 15 reductions during November 2020. Here is the list of firms that announced dividend cuts during the month:

Six of these firms are from the oil & gas sector, three are retail-oriented REITs, which shows the ongoing influence of the coronavirus pandemic on retail-oriented firms in 2020. The remaining firms in our sampling are made up of one firm each from the materials, utility, financial services, insurance and consumer products industries.

Overall, the pace of dividend cuts during the fourth quarter of 2020 to date appears more healthy than the same quarter in 2017, 2018, and 2019, which can be seen in our chart showing the cumulative dividend cuts announced by day of quarter for the current and three previous years.

Cumulative Dividend Cuts and Suspensions Announced by Day of Quarter, 2017-Q4 vs 2018-Q4 vs 2019-Q4 vs 2020-Q4 to Date, Snapshot on 30 November 2020

Previously on Political Calculations

We've been listing the firms that have announced dividend cuts or suspensions from our near real-time sampling of these declarations in our previous editions. Please follow these links to see all the dividend cuts and suspensions we've tracked during the coronavirus recession.

References

Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 30 November 2020.

Seeking Alpha Market Currents. Filtered for Dividends. [Online Database].

Wall Street Journal. Dividend Declarations. [Online Database when searched on the Internet Archive].

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