According to the March 17th edition of the FactSet Dividend Quarterly, highly profitable S&P 500 firms continued to boost their dividend payouts in 2014. VP and Senior Earnings Analyst John Butters highlights that companies in the S&P 500 paid out just under $376 billion in dividends last year.

Key S&P 500 dividend statistics for 2014

S&P 500

Aggregate Dividends:

Firms in the S&P 500 paid out $375.9 billion in dividends during the year ending in January (Q4 2014). This was the fourth quarter in a row that dividends paid on a trailing 12-month basis produced a new record high. The FactSet report notes that the Financials ($60.7 billion) and Information Technology ($57.0 billion) sectors gave shareholders the largest aggregate dividends in 2014. Exxon Mobil paid out $11.6 billion in dividends and Apple disbursed $11.2 billion for the year, the most of any among the 500 firms in the index..

DPS Growth (TTM):

Of note, dividends per share for the S&P 500 were up 11.9% to $38.77 for the year ending in January. Six of the ten sectors in the index saw double-digit increases in the size of the dividend, led by the Consumer Discretionary sector.

Dividend Payout Ratio:

The FactSet report also highlighted that the dividend payout ratio on a trailing 12-month basis was 32.2% at the end of the fourth quarter of last year, notably higher than the 10-year median.

Dividend Yield:

The dividend yield for the year was 1.9% at the end of the fourth quarter, very close to the 10-year median.

Dividend Participation:

Of interest, the number of companies paying a dividend was 421, around 84% of the index.

DPS Growth (NTM):

Finally, the report points out that dividends per share for the S&P 500 are anticipated to be up by 8.2% over the next twelve months. Moreover, all ten sectors are projected to report larger dividends, especially the Financials (12.8%) and Industrials (10.0%) sectors. The growth in dividends per share for the other eight sectors is expected to be under 10%. Butters opines that “dividend payments for the Financials sector have not yet fully recovered from the financial crisis, resulting in higher growth expectations going forward,” noting the Financials sector is the only sector in still reporting DPS on a trailing 12-month basis ($5.49) under the 10-year average for the sector ($6.93).