Unexpectedly Intriguing!
03 March 2021

February is typically a strong month for dividend paying stocks in the U.S. stock market. That's because it is a very popular month for firms to announce they will increase their dividends based on the strength of their fourth quarter earnings.

So it's no surprise that February 2021 was a relatively strong month! As Februaries go however, February 2021 saw the lowest number of dividend rises announced in any February of the past eight years. The latest update to our chart illustrating the number of dividend rises and reductions in each month since January 2004 shows how February 2021 ranks for both metrics.

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through February 2021

Let's get to February 2021's dividend metadata. Before we proceed however, we need to note that Standard and Poor did indeed revise their tally of the number of extra (or special) dividend payouts announced during January 2021, which turned out to be a considerably larger number than the zero they originally reported! The revised figure is the number we'll be referencing for January 2021's extra dividends below:

  • A total of 2,439 U.S. firms declared dividends in February 2021, an increase of 973 over the unchanged number of 1,466 recorded in January 2021. That figure is also a decrease of 1,243 from the 3,682 recorded in February 2020.
  • 64 U.S. firms announced they would pay a special (or extra) dividend to their shareholders in February 2021, a decline of 49 from the 113 recorded in January 2021 and an increase of 17 over the 47 recorded in February 2020.
  • 286 U.S. firms announced they would boost cash dividend payments to shareholders in February 2021, an increase of 112 over the number recorded in January 2021, and a decrease of 11 from the 297 recorded in February 2020.
  • A total of 14 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in February 2021, a decline of 18 from the 32 recorded in January 2021 and also a decrease of 15 from the 29 recorded in February 2020.
  • 1 U.S. firm omitted paying their dividends in February 2021, a decline of 2 from the 3 recorded in January 2021. That figure is also a decrease of 3 from the 4 recorded in February 2020.

Meanwhile, a record 21 firms announced they would resume paying dividends in February 2021 after having suspended (or omitted) paying them during the coronavirus recession of 2020. This is five more than the previous monthly record of 16, which was recorded twice before, in December 2008 and in November 2020.

Since it has only been two weeks since we last reviewed the dividend cutting firms we've found in our ongoing real-time sampling of dividend declarations, we'll simply note the total dividend cuts announced in the first quarter of 2021 is continuing to run well below the pace of the first quarters of the previous three years. We'll next update the list after the end of March 2021, when we present the next update in the Dividends By The Numbers series!

In the meantime, should S&P revise its posted dividend data for February 2021, we'll append the version of this article that appears on our site with that information. Just like we had to for January 2021.


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