Global dividends fell slightly in the third quarter, down 0.9% on a headline basis to $421.9bn according to the latest Global Dividend Index from Janus Henderson. Underlying growth, which adjusts for one-off special dividends, exchange rates and other technical factors, was 0.3%. But large cuts from a handful of companies masked much more encouraging growth around the world.
A few large cuts impacted the figures – excluding the two largest underlying growth was 5.3%
The largest dividend falls came from across the mining sector, where half of companies reduced payouts, and from oil producers in Brazil and Taiwan, against the wider oil-sector trend. Indeed, stripping out just the two biggest cutters, Brazil’s Petrobras and Australian miner BHP, both of which are known for their variable dividends, reveals 5.3% global underlying growth in Q3 – in line with the long-term trend. Dividends from chemicals and Asian real estate companies were also down sharply, reflecting tough market conditions in the region.
Banking, utilities, vehicles as well as most oil companies, showed strong growth
These cuts were offset by strong banking dividends in most parts of the world (up 9.3% underlying), and by rising payouts across a wide range of other sectors, especially utilities and vehicle manufacturers. Globally nine companies in ten raised payouts or held them steady, though there was wide variation across sectors and countries.
China saw record payouts
The third quarter marks the seasonal high point for China and most of Asia Pacific ex Japan. Chinese dividends reached a new record thanks to a large increase from Petrochina, but this masked weakness among China’s banks and property companies. A one sixth fall in Taiwanese payouts reflected difficulties in the oil, chemicals, steel and insurance sectors, while a similar fall in Australia was driven by a large decline in mining payouts. Growth in Hong Kong was held back by the property sector where every company either reduced its dividend or held it steady.
US – slower but robust, Europe – strong, UK – impacted by mining cuts
Elsewhere, US dividends grew at 4.5%, a healthy rate of growth albeit slower than preceding years/periods, and 98% of US companies raised either raised payouts or held them steady. The US was outpaced by Canada which is benefiting from strength in the banking and oil sectors. Europe continued to show very strong growth, extending the pattern seen in its seasonally important second quarter. In the UK, lower mining payouts largely balanced increases from banks, oil producers and utilities. Among emerging markets, there was a wide dispersion – China, India, Saudi Arabia and Czechia were strong, but weakness in Brazil meant payouts were down for emerging markets as a whole.
Forecast – underlying growth upgraded, headline growth trimmed back a touch
Janus Henderson’s forecast for this year has reduced slightly, reflecting lower special dividends and the strengthening dollar. The 2023 headline forecast drops from $1.64 trillion to $1.63 trillion, an increase of 4.4% year-on-year. But underlying growth, which is unaffected by exchange rates and one-off special dividends, is stronger than expected. Moreover, several countries, including the US, France, Canada, Switzerland and China are on track to deliver record payouts. The global fund manager is therefore upgrading its forecast for underlying growth from 5.0% to 5.3%.
Ben Lofthouse, head of global equity income at Janus Henderson said: “Apparent weakness in Q3’s global dividends is not a cause for concern, given the large impact a handful of companies made. In fact, the level of growth and its quality look better this year than seemed likely a few months ago as payouts have become less reliant on one-offs and volatile exchange rates.
“Dividend growth from companies generally remains strong across a wide range of sectors and regions, with the exception of commodity related sectors like mining and chemicals. It is quite normal and well understood by investors that commodity dividends will rise and fall with the cycle, however, and does not indicate wider malaise. Moreover, our figures show that a globally diversified income portfolio has natural stabilisers – sectors in the ascendance, such as banking and oil, have been able to counteract those with declining dividends, like mining and chemicals. And of course, dividends are typically much less volatile than earnings over time, providing comfort in times of economic uncertainty.”
Janus Henderson Investors
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Notes to editors
Our headline growth rate describes the change in the total dollar amount paid by companies compared to the corresponding quarter each year. Our underlying figure adjusts for the distortion that can be caused by one-off special dividends, changing exchange rates, the effect of companies entering and leaving the global top 1,200 that comprise our index and the impact of changes in payment dates. The latter two tend to be negligible over the course of a whole year at the global level, though they can have a greater impact in any one quarter, geography or sector.
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As of September 30, 2023, Janus Henderson had approximately US$308.3 billion in assets under management, more than 2,000 employees, and offices in 24 cities worldwide. Headquartered in London, the company is listed on the NYSE and ASX.
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