PARIS, March 1 — Companies around the world paid their shareholders US$1.56 trillion (RM7 trillion) in dividends last year, according to a study published today.
The total is up 8.4 per cent from 2021, the previous record year, after rebounding from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by asset manager Janus Henderson.
Oil and gas producers and financial firms accounted for half of that growth, according to its Global Dividend Index, which tracks the 1,200 biggest firms by market capitalisation.
As skyrocketing energy prices boosted profits, oil and gas producers increased their payouts by more than 66 per cent in the form of ordinary or extraordinary dividends, the asset manager said.
It said 88 per cent of companies increased or held their dividends steady in 2022.
Eurozone banks used their renewed ability to pay dividends, after the European Central Bank froze them at the start of the pandemic.
Banks and other financial firms contributed to a quarter of last year’s dividend growth, the report said.
Soaring freight costs gave a boost to the transport and shipping sectors, but lower commodity prices meant mining dividends fell from their record 2021 high.
As the global economy struggles and inflation puts a strain on househoulds around the world, the news of huge corporate profits and payouts has reignited debate about windfall taxes.
“For the year ahead, there is more uncertainty over the prospects for dividends,” said Jane Shoemake, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson.
It still expects a record US$1.6 trillion in dividends paid out, but with a slower growth rate of 2.3 per cent.
“Inflation, the extent of further rate hikes, and geopolitical risks all cloud the horizon,” Shoemake said. — AFP