Category Archives: dividends

Dividends by the Numbers in May 2023

Neon question mark at end of tunnel by Emily Morter via Unsplash -

According to Standard & Poor, May 2023 showed signs of a rebound for the dividend paying companies of the U.S. stock market.

The number of firms increasing their dividends was up from last month, while the number of dividend paying firms was down. Normally, that combination represents a positive scenario for investors.

But there's a problem when we get to the numbers. We regularly sample dividend declarations each month, making a point of tracking the number of unfavorable dividend actions we find among all the month's announcements. We counted no fewer than 37 announcements of reduced, cut, or suspended dividends.

S&P only reported twenty such unfavorable changes for dividend payers in May 2023.

That makes May 2023 a very rare occurrence where our sample of dividend reductions is larger than the total reported by S&P. We'll dig more into the sampling later, but for now, here's the big picture showing where Standard & Poor's data on dividend increases and decreases for May 2023 fits as the latest data in what they've reported each month since January 2004.

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through May 2023

The following table presents S&P's dividend metadata for May 2023, summarizing how the month's dividend data compares in both Month-over-Month (MoM) and Year-Over-Year (YoY) terms with previously reported data:

Dividend Changes in May 2023
   May-2023  Apr-2023    MoM  May-2022    YoY
Total Declarations 4,093 3,169 924 ↑ 4,041 52 ↑
Favorable 230 130 100 ↑ 258 -28 ↓
- Increases 140 91 49 ↑ 156 -16 ↓
- Special/Extra 87 39 48 ↑ 85 2 ↑
- Resumed 3 0 3 ↑ 17 -14 ↓
Unfavorable 20 30 -10 ↓ 9 11 ↑
- Decreases 20 30 -10 ↓ 9 11 ↑
- Omitted/Passed 0 0 0 ↔ 0 0 ↔

Overall, S&P's dividend data is up month-over-month, and down year-over-year.

As noted, our sampling of dividend changes tallied 37 unfavorable actions during May 2023. Fourteen of these reductions or omissions are attributable to firms that pay variable dividends in the oil and gas sector, which we'll a deeper look at later this month.

Just as significantly, we counted 7 dividend reducing firms in the financial services sector, 3 in the real estate industry, and 2 banks. Together, that's 12 firms from the sectors of the economy most sensitive to interest rate hikes that reduced their dividends.

The remaining firms whose business outlooks were distressed enough to prompt them to cut their dividends include three firms each in the consumer goods or shipping industries and two firms each in the chemical and manufacturing industries. One media company acted to cut its dividend to round out the total for the month in the sample. Here is the list - clicking the links for the firm's names will take you to our source indicating the reduced or omitted dividend for it:

The firm marked with an asterisk in this listing, Big Lots (NYSE: BIG), suspended (or omitted) its dividend during May 2023.

We've previously confirmed that S&P's dividend statistics have been missing firms that have announced they are suspending will omit paying their dividends. In fact, they haven't reported any since June 2021. We had thought they were grouping them with their count of dividend decreases, but now we're curious how they're doing their counting for both decreases and omissions. That's become an unanswered question.


Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 1 June 2023.

Image credit: Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash.

Spring 2023 Animated Snapshot of the Future for S&P 500 Dividends

Empty bank safety deposit boxes by ptone805 via PxHere -

After the Silicon Valley Bank run in the first quarter of 2023, dividend futures quickly collapsed.

That collapse can best be seen in the CME Group's quarterly dividend index futures for the S&P 500 (Index: SPX) during the fourth quarter of 2023. Going into 10 March 2023, the dividend futures for 2023-Q4 stood at $16.99 per share. It quickly bottomed at $15.94 per share just six days later. Then it bounced as high as $16.41 per share on 21 March 2023 before dropping once more to hit its bottom again on 29 March 2023.

Since then, the outlook for 2023-Q4's dividends has more sustainably improved. When we last presented 2023's dividend futures, the dividends expected in 2023-Q4 had recovered to $16.41 per share as the risk of more bank failures appeared to be concentrated within a handful of regional banks.

Flash forward to today, the following animated chart covering the period from 6 April 2023 through 12 May 2023 reveals that recovery has continued, but has followed a rocky road.

Animation: Past and Projected S&P 500 Quarterly Dividends per Share Futures, 2021-Q4 through 2023-Q4, 6 April 2023 through 12 May 2023

Starting from where we left off on 6 April 2023, 2023-Q4's dividend futures continued to rise, eventually peaking at $16.95 on 24 April 2023. But the specter of more bank failures returned with the First Republic Bank the following weekend, sending dividend futures downward again. After PacWest Bancorp reported it was rapidly losing deposits on 11 May 2023, the outlook for 2023-Q4's dividends has fallen back to $16.75 per share.

That mostly brings us up to date. Individually, the failures of Silicon Valley Bank, First Republic Bank, and Signature Bank represent the second, third, and fourth largest bank failures in U.S. history. Together, their combined deposits of $368 billion dwarfs the $188 billion held by Washington Mutual when it became the largest bank failure in U.S. history in 2003.

The fifth largest bank failure in U.S. history occurred in August 2009 with the collapse of Colonial Bank, which held $20 billion in assets. 2023's bank failures have so far been in been in a league all their own. It's no wonder the prospects for more bank failures is weighing on the outlook for the S&P 500's dividends.

Image credit: Empty bank deposit boxes. Photo by ptone805 via PxHere. Creative Commons. CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication.

Dividends by the Numbers in April 2023

Brown Grizzly Bear by anvesh baru via Unsplash -

Signs of distress continued to build in the U.S. stock market in April 2023. The number of firms increasing their dividends fell substantially during the month. Meanwhile, the number of firms reducing dividend payments to their shareholding owners also fell, though much of that seemingly positive development is attributable to things not getting much worse for one particular industry that's been absolutely slammed in recent months.

We'll get to that seemingly positive story when we get deeper into the month's unfavorable dividend actions. The bigger story in April 2023 is what happened with the number of firms announcing dividend increases.

To put this developing story into context, February 2023 set a new monthly record for this measure when 424 firms declared they would increase their dividend payouts. Two months later, the number of dividend paying companies in the U.S. stock market fell to 91.

That 78% drop represents the third-largest percentage decline of firms announcing dividend rises recorded over a two month period in U.S. stock market history. The second-largest event is the collapse in dividend increases that accompanied the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic recession, when the number of dividend rises announced plunged by 82% between February and April 2020. The only event worse than both these in percentage terms for dividend rises over two months was the 100% decline that took place between June and August 1932 as the U.S. stock market bottomed during the Great Depression.

Snapping back to the modern era, the following chart shows the number of firms either increasing their dividends each month (blue) or decreasing them (red).

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through April 2023

To help flesh out the overall signal being sent by dividend-paying firms in the U.S. stock market, the following table presents their dividend metadata for April 2023. It shows both favorable and unfavorable dividend changes are notably down substantially, both in Month-over-Month (MoM) and Year-Over-Year (YoY) terms:

Dividend Changes in April 2023
   Apr-2023  Mar-2023    MoM  Apr-2022    YoY
Total Declarations 3,169 4,654 -1,485 ↓ 3,588 -419 ↓
Favorable 130 173 -43 ↓ 186 -56 ↓
- Increases 91 124 -33 ↓ 127 -36 ↓
- Special/Extra 39 44 -5 ↓ 53 -14 ↓
- Resumed 0 5 -5 ↓ 6 -6 ↓
Unfavorable 30 53 -23 ↓ 26 4 ↑
- Decreases 30 53 -23 ↓ 26 4 ↑
- Omitted/Passed 0 0 0 ↔ 0 0 ↔

Our monthly sampling of dividend changes captured 14 of the reported 30 unfavorable actions. In falling back from their elevated levels of recent months, the most notable change was the absence of variable and hybrid dividend payers in the oil and gas industry. That's because crude oil prices have largely stabilized in a range between $70 and $80 per barrel in 2023 following their ~35% plunge from June through December 2022. In April 2023, we counted six firms from this industrial sector.

That number was matched by firms whose businesses are sensitive to rising interest rates, including two banks, two financial services firms, and two office-REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts). The remaining two firms in our sampling include a mining firm and a utility company. Here's the list:

The two firms marked with an asterisk (*) in this listing, Via Renewables and Vornado Realty Trust, suspended (or omitted) their dividends during April 2023. That's notable mainly because we believe Standard and Poor is including these firms' actions in their monthly count of dividend decreases, which would account for why they recorded zero dividend omissions during the month. Decreases and omissions are both considered unfavorable changes for investors who own stock in dividend paying firms.


Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 2 May 2023.

Image credit: Photo by anvesh baru on Unsplash.

Dividend Futures Recovering Somewhat After Silicon Valley Bank Run

On 10 March 2023, federal bank regulators shut Silicon Valley Bank. Their action followed a run on its deposits, some of which was captured in the following video showing part of the line that formed outside Silicon Valley Bank as depositors rushed to pull their money out from it.

The failure of Silicon Valley Bank represents the second largest bank failure in U.S. history and was quickly followed by the third largest, Signature Bank, just two days later.

These failures changed the outlook for U.S. stock market investors, which can be quantified by how they've changed the expected future for dividends, as measured by the CME Group's S&P 500's Quarterly Dividend Index Futures. Previously, we've animated how they evaporated in the week following the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.

But in the weeks since, the outlook for the S&P 500's expected dividends has improved. That improvement is shown in the following animated chart tracking how the amount of dividends expected for the S&P 500 in each upcoming quarter through the end of 2023 has changed since 17 March 2023.

Animation: Past and Projected S&P 500 Quarterly Dividends per Share Futures, 2021-Q4 through 2023-Q4, 317 March 2023 through 6 April 2023

Perhaps the easiest way to quantify how that outlook has changed is to look at the expectations for 2023-Q4's dividends per share, because the numbers are easy to work with. On 10 March 2023, investors expected the companies that make up the S&P 500 index would pay a quarterly dividend of $16.99 per share.

One week later, on 17 March 2023, the amount of dividends expected to be paid by S&P 500 companies in the fourth quarter of 2023 had fallen to $16.00 per share.

But now, through 6 April 2023, investors anticipate the S&P 500's dividend payout for 2023-Q4 will be $16.47 per share. In the three trading weeks since 17 March 2023, dividends has recovered a little over 47% of how much they lost in the week immediately after the second and third largest bank failures in U.S. history.

It's still a long way from a complete recovery, which appears unlikely at this writing. We'll check in again on how that future is changing sometime in mid-May 2023.

Dividends by the Numbers in March 2023 and 2023-Q1

Growling Bear by Mana5280 via Unsplash -

March 2023 saw a turn for the worse for the shareholders of dividend-paying companies in the U.S. stock market. Unlike the preceding month, when we could point to some bright spots, March was more uniformly dismal for dividend payers.

That's because favorable dividend actions are down by every measure. Month over month. Quarter over quarter. Year over year.

And though unfavorable dividend actions are down compared to February 2023, they are still at levels consistent with the development of recessionary conditions in the U.S. economy.

The latest update to Political Calculations' chart presenting the number of U.S. firms that announced they would either increase or decrease their dividends each month illustrates these changes. It also shows that March 2023 had fewer dividend increases announced during it than any previous March during the previous ten years.

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through March 2023

The following table presents March 2023's dividend metadata, showing how much each measure has changed both Month-over-Month (MoM) and Year-Over-Year (YoY):

Dividend Changes in March 2023
   Mar-2023  Feb-2023    MoM  Mar-2022    YoY
Total Declarations 4,654 5,186 -532 ↓ 4,438 216 ↑
Favorable 173 539 -366 ↓ 243 -70 ↓
- Increases 124 424 -300 ↓ 158 -34 ↓
- Special/Extra 44 111 -67 ↓ 72 -28 ↓
- Resumed 5 4 1 ↑ 13 -8 ↓
Unfavorable 53 100 -47 ↓ 29 24 ↑
- Decreases 53 100 -47 ↓ 29 24 ↑
- Omitted/Passed 0 0 0 ↔ 0 0 ↔

Following up our observation about how Standard & Poor' may be reporting dividend omissions last month, we've found evidence to support the possibility the firm is grouping them with the dividend decreases they report. BK Technologies (NYSE: BKTI) very specifically suspended their ordinary dividends on 16 March 2023, yet S&P indicates zero omitted dividends for March 2023, continuing the streak set since June 2021. We suspect these passed or omitted dividends are being grouped under the category of dividend decreases, which is appropriate if you consider both dividend cuts and omissions count as unfavorable dividend actions, but would be nice to have them broken out separately because they represent different mechanisms by which dividend-paying companies act to conserve money when their earnings dry up.

Our sampling of unfavorable dividend changes captures 14 of the reported 53 actions. There were four reductions each in the real estate and oil & gas sectors, and two in the financial services industry that rises to three if we include banks, which we count separately.

Here's the list for our sampling, where we also find industrial representation from the food, industrial, shipping, and technology sectors of the economy.

Looking back over the past three months, our sampling provides the following picture to indicate which industries are experiencing the greatest amount of distress:

Sampled Dividend Decreases in U.S. by Industrial Sector, 1 January 2023 through 31 March 2023

The oil and gas sector has seen the lionshare of dividend reductions, showing the negative impact of 2022's oil price collapse upon it. Meanwhile, the real estate and financial services industries represent the second and third highest levels of concentrated distress in the U.S. economy, with these sectors bearing the brunt of the Federal Reserve's year-long series of rate hikes.

We'll conclude by tallying up the quarterly number of dividend increases and decreases, showing how 2023-Q1 compares with the four quarters preceding it. We saved this chart for the end of this article for a reason: it visualizes the downward momentum that has built up in the U.S. stock market since 2022-Q1.

Number of U.S. Firms Increasing and Decreasing Dividends by Quarter, 2022-Q1 through 2023-Q1

Will 2023-Q2 see a turnaround in the outlook for dividend paying companies? Or will the downward momentum established over the past year continue?

These are rhetorical questions. Deep down, you already know which outcome is more likely for the next quarter.


Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 3 April 2023.

Image credit: Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash.