S&P 500 Q2 Dividends Reach Second Largest Total in 10 Years by FactSet

Aggregate quarterly dividends for the S&P 500 amounted to $105.8 billion in the second quarter, which represented a 0.8% increase year-over-year. The dividend total in Q2 marked the second largest quarterly dividend amount in at least 10 years (after Q1 2016). The total dividend payout for the trailing 12 months ending in Q2 amounted to $427.5 billion, which was a 7.1% increase from the same time period a year ago. The payout was the largest TTM total in at least 10 years.

The second quarter also marked the tenth consecutive quarter that the trailing 12-month dividend payout for the S&P 500 index hit a new high. The number of dividend payers in the S&P 500 at the end of Q2 was 419 companies. This was a slight decrease from the 420 companies paying dividends in the trailing 12-month period a year ago.

Q2 Shareholder Distributions Mark Smallest Quarterly Total since Q4 2014

Shareholder distributions, defined as total dividends plus gross share buybacks, amounted to $230.9 billion at the end of the second quarter, which was a 3.5% year-over-year decline. The Q2 amount represented the smallest quarterly total of shareholder distributions since Q4 2014. The low level of distributions was primarily driven by the sharp decline in share buybacks during the second quarter.

Related: Q2 Buybacks Smallest Quarterly Total Since 2013

This was a stark contrast to the first quarter, when buybacks were not far off record levels and shareholder distributions reached its largest total in at least 10 years. During the second quarter, dividend payments made up 46% of shareholder distributions, while gross share buybacks made up the other 54%. Apple and General Electric spent more on shareholder distributions in Q2 than any other company in the S&P 500 ($14.1 billion and $9.9 billion, respectively).

Top 10 Companies by Quarterly Shareholder Distributions
ID Company Sector Qtr Dividends Qtr Buybacks Qtr Shareholder Distributions 1 Yr Total Return
AAPL Apple inc. Information Technology $3,187 $10,900 $14,087 2.2%
GE General Electric Company Industrials $2,274 $7,588 $9,862 23.3%
MSFT Microsoft Corporation Information Technology $2,821 $3,600 $6,421 34.3%
JNJ Johnson & Johnson Health Care $2,197 $2,368 $4,565 29.9%
WFC Wells Fargo & Company Financials $2,259 $2,214 $4,473 (6.0%)
ABBV AbbVie, inc. Health Care $927 $3,421 $4,438 7.5%
MCD McDonald’s Corporation Consumer Discretionary $759 $3,289 $4,048 23.7%
WMT Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Consumer Staples $1,560 $2,049 $3,609 17.1%
T AT&T Inc. Telecom $2,952 $224 $3,176 29.3%
XOM Exxon Mobile Corporation Energy $3,133 $0 $3,133 17.6%

Dividends per Share Grow at Single-Digit Growth Rate for Third Consecutive Quarter

Dividends per share for the S&P 500 amounted to $44.23 for the trailing 12 months ending in Q2, which marked the largest aggregate DPS in at least 10 years. This amount represented an 11.4% premium to the average dividends per share total over the past three years. Aggregate DPS for the S&P 500 has continued to increase, but it has done so at a decreasing rate. The year-over-year growth rate in the second quarter was 6.1%, which was well-below the three-year average growth rate for the index (10.8%). The second quarter also marked the third consecutive quarter in which TTM dividends per share grew at a single-digit clip.

At the sector level, the Telecom, Health Care, and Financials groups grew their aggregate dividends per share at double-digit rates. The Telecom and Health Care sectors led all groups in terms of DPS growth, posting year-over-year growth rates of 11.2% and 10.3%, respectively. The Energy and Materials sectors were the only groups that saw their TTM dividends per share decline compared to the year-ago period.

Read more about this topic and other dividend trends of the S&P 500 in this edition of FactSet Dividend Quarterly. Visit www.factset.com/dividend to launch the latest report.