Dividend payouts are expected to reach record levels globally in 2019, but the forecast growth rate is slowing sharply from last year, according to a new report from IHS Markit Ltd.
The London, U.K.-based analytics firm reports that its bottom-up forecasting model projects total dividend payouts will reach US$1.81 trillion in 2019, which would set a record. However, the projected dividend growth rate of 6% is less than half the 14.3% growth rate recorded in 2018.
“Our relatively conservative outlook, which draws on a bottom-up analysis of more than 9,500 firms, echoes the backdrop of increasing uncertainties caused by trade and geopolitical tensions,” said Thomas Matheson, head of dividend research at IHS Markit, in a statement.
“The confluence of these factors is prompting some companies to revise their forward guidance lower, suggesting that management teams are downbeat on short-term prospects. This is particularly apparent in export-oriented economies like Japan, where we expect dividend growth of less than 5% after several years of double-digit growth,” he added.
IHS Markit reports that a deceleration in dividend growth is seen across all regions, including the U.S., Europe and Asia. Yet the U.S. is seen to be generating 8.1% growth in 2019, outpacing the global average. Emerging markets are expected to continue outperforming developed markets in dividend growth in 2019.
By sector, the report says that banks are anticipated to remain the top dividend payers in 2019, with U.S. banks enjoying 16.1% growth, followed by European banks at 5.8% and Asian banks at 4.2% growth.
The energy sector also is anticipated to produce one of the highest growth rates this year, with dividends expected to rise by 9% from the previous year to US$187.9 billion.
Conversely, the telecommunications sector remains most vulnerable to dividend cuts, the firm says, citing “stronger competition and weaker fundamentals.”