Dividends By The Numbers For September 2019 And 2019-Q3

September 2019 was the worst month for dividend increases since September 2011. For dividend cuts, it was borderline bad, which is consistent with recessionary conditions being present within the U.S. economy. The overall picture these two bits of data create is of an economy that is slowing considerably.

The following chart shows the monthly data for dividend increases and decreases as reported by Standard & Poor from January 2004 through September 2019:

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through September 2019


Here are the numbers for U.S. dividends during September 2019, with comparisons to August 2019 and to September 2018:

  • 3,686 U.S. firms issued some sort of declaration regarding their dividends in September 2019, up by 146 from August 2019's total of 3,540, and also up year-over-year from September 2018's 3,623.
  • There were 21 firms who announced they would pay an extra, or special, dividend to their shareholders, which was down from the 34 that did in August 2019, and down slightly from the 24 that paid out an extra dividend back in September 2018.
  • September 2019 was the worst single month for dividend increases since September 2011, with just 50 recorded in both these months. That compares with the 125 dividend increases announced in August 2019 and the 71 dividend rises announced last year in September 2018.
  • Dividend decreases were more plentiful in September 2019, with 29 cuts announced during the month. That figure compares with the 20 announced during the previous month and the 26 announced during the same month back in 2018.
  • The number of distressed firms opting to omit making regular dividend payments increased to 7 in September 2019, up from 4 in August 2019, and also up from the single firm that omitted paying dividends in September 2018.

And since we're at the end of the third quarter of 2019, here is the dividend metadata for 2019-Q3, which we've compared with 2019-Q2 and 2018-Q3.

  • There were 314 dividend rises announced during the third quarter of 2019, 75 fewer than the 389 announced in 2019-Q2, and 59 less than the 373 dividend increases announced in the previous year's third quarter.
  • 80 U.S. firms announced they would pay an extra, or special, dividend to their shareholders in 2019-Q3. That figure is 21 less than the 101 extra dividends announced in the second quarter of 2019, but 3 more than the 77 that were announced back in 2018-Q3.
  • In 2019-Q3, 80 U.S. companies announced they would cut their dividend payments to shareholders, while 13 announced they would omit making dividend payments during the quarter, a combined total of 93. The previous quarter of 2019-Q2 saw 59 dividend cuts and 3 omissions for a combined total of 62, and the year-ago quarter of 2018-Q3 had 64 dividend cuts with 3 omissions, for a combined total of 67 distressed firms.
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