Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg
Singapore Loves Dividends, Australia Most GenerousBy , , and
Australia’s 4.2% yield highest among developed markets
97% of Singapore stocks paid dividends versus 70% in S&P 500
Dividend-dependent investors were best served by the Asia-Pacific region last year, with Australia’s benchmark index offering the highest yield among developed countries and Singapore providing nearly ubiquitous payouts.
Singapore and the Philippines led the world in the proportion of companies that made or pledged dividend payments, with about 97 percent of companies in both Singapore’s Straits Times Index and the Philippine Stock Exchange PSEi Index having an ex-dividend date for the 12 months through Dec. 31, according to an analysis of about 70 national equity benchmarks by Bloomberg.
In fact, eight of the top nine markets with the most prevalent payout ratios were from the region, with South Africa as the only outlier. Thailand, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Australia and China were the other leaders, with more than 90 percent of companies in their benchmark gauges offering dividends.
By contrast, 70 percent of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index member stocks set at least one ex-dividend date in 2017. Japan was even more of a laggard among advanced markets, with only 20 percent of Nikkei 225 companies declaring payouts.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index offered the highest dividend yield among developed markets -- 4.18 percent -- followed by Norway at 4.08 percent and the U.K.’s 4.02 percent. The MSCI EAFE, a gauge of developed-markets that doesn’t include the U.S., closed the year with 3.02 percent. The yield for S&P 500 companies averaged 1.89 percent, with figures based on gross payout. Australia’s benchmark index has consistently yielded 4 percent or more this decade.
Bloomberg research excluded dividend types that are neither recurring, such as partnership distribution, nor those that signify less than positive prospects such as discontinued and liquidating dividends. The ratio of index members paying dividends was based on companies with at least one ex-dividend date, or the last day the owner is entitled to receive the payment should he or she decide to sell the stock during the calendar year.
A new tax law taking effect in the U.S. this year may see an earnings bump, particularly for those domiciled outside of the country. Research firm IHS Markit Ltd. predicts annual dividend growth to slow to 7.7 percent in the U.S., one percentage point below the 2017 rate, yet noted the reforms could potentially push the eventual growth rate above 10 percent.
At the end of 2017, 31 companies in the S&P gauge were incorporated outside of the U.S., including some involved in the biggest inversion deals in recent years: semiconductor-maker Broadcom Ltd., through its merger with the Singapore-based Avago Technologies Ltd., and pharmaceuticals firm Mylan NV setting up in the Netherlands after buying some generic-drugs assets from Abbott Laboratories.