Dividends will make a comeback

It's been a miserable year for income investors. But recent months have brought signs that dividends will return to normal.

This year has been a miserable one for income seekers, says Russ Mould of AJ Bell. FTSE 100 firms have collectively “cut, deferred or cancelled” more than £37bn in dividends this year. Yet recent months have brought signs of a return to normal. Sixteen firms have reinstated payouts amounting to £2.7bn for this year or next. 

Expect total FTSE 100 payouts to rise from £59.9bn this year to £70.8bn in 2021. The UK market remains reliant on a few dividend stalwarts: 54% of 2020 dividends will come from just ten firms, including BP, Rio Tinto and GlaxoSmithKline. Overall, the FTSE 100 yields 3.2% for 2020 and 3.8% for 2021. 

US companies prefer stock buybacks – when a company purchases its own stocks, driving up the price – to dividends, notes Spencer Jakab in The Wall Street Journal. The result is that dividends accounted for just 17% of the total return enjoyed by S&P 500 investors during the past decade. But during gloomy periods they come into their own; they accounted for 73% of returns during the 1970s. That is partly because regular dividend-payers tend to be more careful stewards of investors’ capital. It is also because in “bleak times” dividend re-investment becomes crucial. Reinvested dividends compound. The Barclays Equity Gilt Study notes that £100 invested in British stocks in 1899 would be worth £35,790 today in real terms with dividends re-invested. Without reinvestment? £193.

Recommended

Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now
Investment trusts

Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now

Some high-yielding listed lending funds have come through the crisis with flying colours. David Stevenson picks four of the best.
12 Apr 2021
Stockmarkets shrug off turbulence
Stockmarkets

Stockmarkets shrug off turbulence

Stockmarkets have hit their first bout of turbulence of the year, but most are clinging onto January’s gains.
4 Feb 2021
The MoneyWeek Podcast: how to not lose money to inflation and financial repression
Investment strategy

The MoneyWeek Podcast: how to not lose money to inflation and financial repression

Merryn talks to Peter Spiller of the Capital Gearing Trust about how he navigated the last extraordinary year; what he's buying now; and how he plans …
16 Apr 2021
Share tips of the week
Share tips

Share tips of the week

MoneyWeek’s comprehensive guide to the best of this week’s share tips from the rest of the UK's financial pages.
16 Apr 2021

Most Popular

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it
Bitcoin

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it

The cryptocurrency’s price has soared far beyond its fundamentals, says Matthew Partridge. Here, he looks at how to short bitcoin.
12 Apr 2021
Properties for sale for around £400,000
Houses for sale

Properties for sale for around £400,000

From a converted church in Banffshire with views towards the Cairngorms National Park, to a period property in the Georgian market town of Beverley, e…
2 Apr 2021
US inflation is rising – but it’s not enough to rattle markets yet
Inflation

US inflation is rising – but it’s not enough to rattle markets yet

The latest US inflation figures showed that consumer prices are rising more rapidly than expected. But markets shrugged. John Stepek asks why, and wha…
14 Apr 2021