The dividend data analyzed by Janus Henderson is dominated by continental Europe as two-thirds of the region's dividends are paid during the period.
Underlying growth here was the strongest since the second quarter of 2015 with European companies paying a record $176.5 billion, an increase of 18.7 percent year-on-year, as higher corporate profits in 2017 flowed into dividends, the report noted. Underlying growth was 7.5 percent, once the strength of European currencies compared to the second quarter last year was accounted for. France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Ireland all broke new records. Only a handful of companies, among them such as Deutsche Bank, EDF and Credit Suisse, cut their payouts in a bid to lower costs.
In the U.S., meanwhile, dividends rose 4.5 percent to a record $117.1 billion in the second quarter. "Underlying growth was 7.8 percent after lower special dividends and index changes were taken into account, the fastest expansion in two years. Even though their expansion was a touch slower than average in the second quarter, U.S. dividends have grown more steadily than anywhere else, declining in only four quarters over the last ten years," the report stated.
Only one company in 50 in the U.S. cut its payout, Janus Henderson noted, with the largest firm to do so being GE as it commenced a restructuring program and a bid to reduce its debts.
In the rest of the world, the index showed that Canadian dividends outpaced those in the U.S. while in Asia, underlying growth in dividends in the second quarter, year-by-year, was 13.5 percent in Hong Kong and 46.9 percent in Singapore. Japan, where the second quarter also marks a "seasonal dividend high-point" also saw 14.2 percent headline growth (12.3 percent underlying growth), also boosting the global total.