Dividends By The Numbers In May 2020

It came close, but the combined number of dividend cuts and suspensions announced by U.S. publicly-traded companies fell slightly short of the record levels recorded in April 2020.

The following chart shows the combined total of dividend reductions and omissions for each month from January 2004 through May 2020.

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Number of Public U.S. Companies Cutting or Omitting Dividends, January 2004 - May 2020

Here's the rest of the U.S. stock market's dividend metadata for the month of May 2020. The best we can say about it is that it is not quite as bad as April 2020's metadata.

  • A total of 3,118 U.S. firms declared dividends in May 2020, an increase of 26 over the 3,092 recorded in April 2020. That figure is also 811 lower than what was recorded a year ago in May 2019.
  • 22 U.S. firms announced they would pay a special (or extra) dividend to their shareholders in May 2020, an increase of 11 over the number recorded in April 2020 and 18 lower than what was recorded a year ago in May 2019.
  • 65 U.S. firms announced they would boost cash dividend payments to shareholders in May 2020, an increase of 12 over the number recorded in April 2020, and a decrease of 97 from the 162 dividend rises declared back in May 2019.
  • A total of 114 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in May 2020, a decline of 6 from the 120 recorded in April 2020 and also an increase of 98 over the 16 recorded in May 2019.
  • 152 U.S. firms omitted, or suspended, paying their dividends in May 2020, a decrease of 3 from the number recorded in April 2020. That figure is also an increase of 151 over the total recorded in May 2019.

The combined total of dividend cuts and omissions in May 2020 was 266, nine less than the record of 275 recorded in April 2020 for the monthly data series that extends back to January 2004.

Normally, we focus on firms that have announced they are either increasing or decreasing their dividends, as opposed to suspending them, so here is the latest update to our chart tracking the monthly increases and decreases:

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Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through May 2020

Looking at the current quarter to date, the following chart shows how the cumulative number of dividend cuts announced per day during 2020-Q2 compares with the second quarters of 2017, 2018, and 2019. This chart is the stock market equivalent of the excess mortality charts that have been developed to more accurately assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Number of Public U.S. Companies Cutting or Omitting Dividends, January 2004 through April 2020

Here is the full list of U.S. firms either announcing dividend cuts or suspending their dividends from our regular sampling of dividend declerations during May 2020. Our sample lists 109 firms.

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