Unexpectedly Intriguing!
02 September 2021

August 2021 was another strong month for dividend paying firms in the U.S. stock market. The number of announced dividend increases was up while the number of dividend cuts was down both month-over-month and year-over-year.

Here's what those two streams of dividend metadata look like when charted over time from January 2004 through August 2021:

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

Here's August 2021's dividend metadata, which puts numbers to what's shown in the chart:

  • 5,260 U.S. firms declared dividends in August 2021, an increase of 175 over the total recorded in July 2021. That figure is also an increase of 2,032 over the 3,228 recorded in August 2020.
  • A total of 55 U.S. firms announced they would pay a special (or extra) dividend to their shareholders in August 2021, an increase of one over the number recorded in July 2021 and an increase of 36 over the 19 recorded in August 2020.
  • There were 169 U.S. firms announcing dividend rises in August 2021, an increase of 13 over the number recorded in July 2021, and an increase of 88 over the 81 recorded in August 2020.
  • 7 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in August 2021, a decline of 5 from the 12 recorded in July 2021 and also a decrease of 16 from the 23 recorded in August 2020.
  • Zero U.S. firms omitted paying their dividends in August 2021, the same as the number recorded in July 2021. That figure is also a decrease of 11 from the 11 recorded in August 2020.

Looking at firms cutting dividends in August 2021, we find a number of variable dividend payers, all in the oil and gas industry, within our sampling for the month. The number of firms is consistent with the typical month-to-month noise we expect to see when the U.S. economy is relatively healthy.

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