Trader Talk

Some Banks Returning as Significant Dividend Payers

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The bank capital return plans: Some banks returning as significant dividend payers.

Good news:

1) Bank of America was the big winner: A larger-than-expected $5 billion share buyback and a plan to redeem $5.5 billion in preferred shares. No dividend increase, but the buyback was much bigger than most projected — some had anticipated as little as a $1 billion.

2) Some banks are returning as significant dividend payers. Wells Fargo increased the annual dividend to $1.20, some 34 percent above last year and higher than most estimates. The bank now pays out the highest dividend yields of the large banks, about 3.2 percent, with JPMorgan Chase at about 3 percent.

Others are heading toward the significant 3 percent ratio. Capital One Financial went from $0.20 to $1.20, now with a 2.2 percent yield.

On average, dividends were raised by about 20 percent.

Bad news: Still no meaningful dividends at Bank of America and Citigroup. Both maintain de minimis annual dividends of $0.04 a year.

What's next? First-quarter earnings, but with the bank index up about 12 percent this year ... and big banks like Citi up 12 percent in March alone (20 percent for the year!). I would not be surprised to see some profit-taking.


1) Exchange-traded funds and mutual fund flows: Strong inflows into stocks continue. For the week ending March 13, equity funds (ETFs and mutual funds) had inflows of $11.2 billion, mostly from ETFs. Taxable bond funds (ETFs and mutual funds) had inflows of only $1.2 billion, with modest outflows from bond ETFs. Bottom line: Not a Great Rotation yet, but less and less money is going into bond funds. Last week, for example, there was $5.2 billion going into bond funds.

2) Global indices this week: U.S. is up, Europe is fractionally higher, emerging market demand is declining. I noted all this week that money is coming into the U.S. markets, and — because of concern that China might be tightening — coming out of emerging markets. S&P 500 is up fractionally, but look at stock indices in these commodity-rich countries:

This Week:

Indonesia (IDX) -3.7%
China (FXI) -3.4%
Brazil (EWZ) -2.8%
South Africa (EZA) -2.5%
Peru (EPU) -2.2%
Turkey (TUR) -2.2%
Russia (RSX) -2.1%
Malaysia (EWM) -1.6%

By CNBC's Bob Pisani