Europe dominates on dividends; pay-outs hit $153B

Investors saw their dividends in Europe grow by over 18 percent in the second quarter of this year, with pay-outs hitting $153.4 billion, according to new research.

Europe accounted for $2 in every $5 paid out in dividends globally, Henderson Global Investors said in a report published Monday.

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European companies, which tend to pay the bulk of dividends in the second quarter, were seemingly not hindered by sluggish euro zone growth, and accounted for 40 percent of the global growth in dividends.

Global pay-outs hit a record $426.8 billion in the period, Henderson Global Investors said, an increase of $44.6 billion.

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The strength of the euro, which spiked to a two-and-a-half-year high against the dollar in March and traded close to $1.40 percent for most of the second quarter, added $6.2 billion to Europe's dividend total. The currency has since cooled to trade at around $1.34, down over 4 percent from its peak in March.

Likewise, a further $1.1 billion was added by a stronger Swiss franc.

In the U.K., sterling aided to the region's performance, with the strength of the pound accounting for three quarters of the 9.5 percent growth in dividends paid out by U.K firms.

Income investors with money in France saw strong gains in the second quarter, and – excluding the U.K. - the country was the largest European dividend payer, doling out $40.7 billion.

This was largely down to the financial sector which is beginning to return to normality, Ben Lofthouse, global equity income manager at Henderson, said.

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"What is striking about this report (is) the growth from area like Europe, where growth has been rather lackluster. France, for example, did 30 percent growth. When you look into that, it is large areas of the market that are normalizing," he told CNBC.

"Financials are a big part of that, Societe Generale doubled their dividend, Credit Agricole wasn't paying a dividend and now is. And Axa, the insurance company, posted a 13 percent increase," he added.

Europe's impressive performance comes despite official figures showing last week that economic growth in the euro zone was stagnant in the second quarter. Gross domestic product was flat according to the European Union's Statistics Office, falling below analysts' expectations of 0.1 percent growth.

In North America, pay-outs rose 12 percent to $98.5 billion, and Japan posted 18.5 percent growth in dividends, with its total hitting a record $25.2 billion, in line with European growth.

By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave