DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Despite some notable exceptions, the majority of US companies continued paying their dividends without interruption during the first year of the pandemic, leading to a smaller rebound in the second quarter of 2021 relative to other countries. US dividends rose 5.2% during the quarter on an underlying basis according to the latest edition of the Janus Henderson Global Dividend Index. Nine US companies in ten (92%) increased their dividends year-on-year or held them steady, with payouts higher in every sector except banks and energy.
In percentage terms, the fastest US dividend growth came from the mining sector, in line with trends in other parts of the world, but the biggest contribution came from healthcare and pharmaceuticals companies.
Globally, the dividend recovery began in earnest in the second quarter of 2021, as payments increased 11.2% year-over-year on an underlying basis. Janus Henderson Investors predicts global dividend payments will return to pre-pandemic highs in the next 12 months.
Companies cutting payments were most likely to be in emerging markets and reflected the delayed impact from lower reported 2020 profits. Early in 2020, many of the dividend cuts witnessed in developed markets were by contrast pre-emptive and precautionary.
For 2021, Janus Henderson is upgrading its forecast to $1.39 trillion, an increase of 2.2 percentage points since the May edition. This results in headline dividend growth of 10.7% and will take the total paid within 3% of the pre-pandemic 2019 level, though this is boosted by dollar weakness and higher special dividends. Underlying growth is set to be 8.5% for 2021.
Matt Peron, Director of Research at Janus Henderson said: “The pandemic’s impact on global dividend payments was severe but relatively short-lived. With companies currently holding record levels of cash on their balance sheets, the outlook for future dividend growth is promising, which is much-needed good news for income investors across the globe.”
Second Quarter of 2021 sees significant payout divergence across markets
There has been enormous divergence across markets. Payouts were up 66.4% in Europe and 60.9% in the UK, but just 0.4% in Japan and 5.0% in North America. The wide disparities reflect the extent, the timing and the depth of cuts made in 2020 in the face of the pandemic.
UK: UK dividends bounced back strongly in the second quarter, jumping by more than three fifths (60.9%), closely in line with the rest of Europe, having experienced a similar fall this time last year. Underlying growth was 42.2%. But the total was still 27% lower than Q2 2019.
Europe ex-UK: Q2 is the main European dividend season. Half the headline growth of 66.4% was driven by companies returning to their normal dividend timetable. Underlying growth of 20.1% was almost entirely driven by cancelled payouts restarting, though mostly at lower levels than pre-pandemic. France and Spain led the rebound, but Switzerland lagged behind – reversing the 2020 picture. The regional total remained a fifth lower than Q2 2019.
Asia-Pacific-ex Japan: Headline growth of 45% was boosted by Samsung Electronics’s one-off special dividend. Underlying growth was 13%. South Korea and Australia led growth in the region, but Singapore’s dividends were depressed by ongoing restrictions on banking payouts. Hong Kong dividends were resilient in 2020 so had little room to rebound.
Japan: Having seen so little downside in 2020, underlying growth of 11.9% was strong. More than eight in ten Japanese companies raised their dividends year-on-year or held them steady.
Emerging Markets: On an underlying basis, dividends were down 3.2% year-on-year, as cuts reflect lower 2020 profits retrospectively. Just 56% of emerging market companies raised or held their dividends in Q2.
Implications for portfolio allocations
Dividends from mining companies grew fastest as they are benefiting from booming commodity prices. Industrials and consumer discretionary dividends came back strongly too, though some sub-sectors like leisure remain under severe pressure. Defensive sectors, like telecoms, food, food retail, household products, tobacco and pharmaceuticals registered their characteristic low single-digit growth rates, having seen little negative impact in 2020.
Limits on bank dividends had a major impact in 2020 – banks accounted for half of the fall in global dividends last year. Constraints on banking dividends where they have been imposed are lifting. In the UK they have been removed entirely, though banks are likely to use some of their surplus capital to buy back their lowly valued shares as well as increase dividend payments.
How Janus Henderson’s fund managers are positioning the global income portfolios:
Ben Lofthouse, Head of Global Equity Income at Janus Henderson, added: “As the global economy rebounds, the broad recovery in dividends makes it possible for investors once again to have a wide spread of sectors that are generating income, diversifying the risk of stock and sector specific issues. This is the approach our funds are following. In terms of the highest yielding sectors, the financial services and commodity sectors dividend outlooks are the most improved since last year. We took selective advantage of opportunities to add to positions in these sectors over the last 12 months in anticipation if this improvement. The travel and leisure sectors remain hardest hit in terms of the Covid impact, and while many have adjusted operations to be able to survive, the sector is unlikely to be paying dividends until balance sheets recover, so we continue to avoid these for the time being.”
Unless otherwise stated all data is sourced by Janus Henderson Investors as of 30 June 2021.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. International investing involves certain risks and increased volatility not associated with investing solely in the UK. These risks included currency fluctuations, economic or financial instability, lack of timely or reliable financial information or unfavourable political or legal developments.
Notes to editors
Janus Henderson Group (JHG) is a leading global active asset manager dedicated to helping investors achieve long-term financial goals through a broad range of investment solutions, including equities, fixed income, quantitative equities, multi-asset and alternative asset class strategies.
At 30 June 2021, Janus Henderson had approximately US$428 billion in assets under management, more than 2,000 employees, and offices in 25 cities worldwide. Headquartered in London, the company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
Each year Janus Henderson analyse dividends paid by the 1,200 largest firms by market capitalisation (as at 31/12 before the start of each year). Dividends are included in the model on the date they are paid. Dividends are calculated gross, using the share count prevailing on the pay date (this is an approximation because companies in practice fix the exchange rate a little before the pay date), and converted to US$ using the prevailing exchange rate. Where a scrip dividend is offered, investors are assumed to opt 100% for cash. This will slightly overstate the cash paid out, but we believe this is the most proactive approach to treat scrip dividends. In most markets it makes no material difference, though in some, particularly European markets, the effect is greater. Spain is a particular case in point. The model takes no account of free floats since it is aiming to capture the dividend paying capacity of the world’s largest listed companies, without regard for their shareholder base. We have estimated dividends for stocks outside the top 1,200 using the average value of these payments compared to the large cap dividends over the five-year period (sourced from quoted yield data). This means they are estimated at a fixed proportion of 12.7% of total global dividends from the top 1,200, and therefore in our model grow at the same rate. This means we do not need to make unsubstantiated assumptions about the rate of growth of these smaller company dividends. All raw data was provided by Exchange Data International with analysis conducted by Janus Henderson Investors.