Dividends By The Numbers In 2018

2018 has gone out with a bang for dividend-paying stocks in the U.S. stock market. Here's the dividend metadata for December 2018:

  • In December 2018, 5,934 U.S. firms declared dividends, an increase of 2,210 over the 3,724 recorded in November 2018. That figure is also an increase of 1,428 over the number recorded in December 2017 and the largest number ever recorded for a data series that extends back to January 2004.
  • 179 U.S. firms announced they would pay an extra, or special, dividend to their shareholders in December 2018, an increase of 87 over the number recorded in November 2018. That figure is also an increase of 35 over the total recorded in December 2017.
  • 138 U.S. firms hiked their dividend payments to shareholders in December 2018, a decrease of 27 from the number recorded in November 2018, which is an increase of 12 over the total recorded in December 2017.
  • A total of 40 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in December 2018, an increase of 20 over the number recorded in November 2018 and a decrease of 14 from the 54 recorded in December 2017.
  • Just 1 U.S. firm omitted paying their dividends in December 2018, the same as the number recorded in November 2018. That figure is also a decrease of 6 from the number of firms that omitted paying dividends back in December 2017.

The following chart illustrates the number of dividend increases and decreases recorded in each month from January 2004 through December 2018:

(Click on image to enlarge)

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through December 2018

In addition to going out with a bang, dividend paying companies also exited 2018 on a cautionary note, with the number of dividend cutting firms rising above the threshold indicating recessionary conditions developing for the U.S. economy for the month of December 2018.

Looking back at the final quarter of 2018 however, we find positive improvements across the board for all but one of the U.S. stock market's basic dividend metrics.

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