Healthy growth in global dividends

Despite fears over dwindling worldwide growth, global companies paid out more in dividends last year than any year on record, says Kate Beioley in the Financial Times: $1.37trn, a rise of 9.3% from last year, according to Janus Henderson’s latest dividend index.

Canada enjoyed the fastest dividend growth among large developed economies with 11.8%, driven by oil companies and banks. Japan saw the second-fastest growth with 10.6%. US payouts climbed by 7.8%. In Britain, underlying dividend growth (discounting special payouts) was slightly ahead of the global average with 8.8%.

Mining companies, banks, and British American Tobacco made the largest contribution to growth. Despite the recent global slowdown, payouts should keep climbing in 2019, reckons Janus Henderson.

“Dividends tend to be more stable than profits because company managements store up cash for more difficult times and are reluctant to cut [them],” says Patrick Hosking in The Times. What’s more, reinvested dividends account for the vast majority of long-term returns.

According to the Barclays Equity Gilt study, £100 invested in the UK stockmarket in 1899 would have been worth £34,758 after inflation by the end of 2017 if the dividends had been reinvested every year. Had they not been reinvested, the initial stake would now be worth just £203 in real terms.