Company dividends are poised to drop by 15pc this year at best, tearing a £170bn hole in shareholder returns, a report has forecast, as businesses rush to cut costs amid the pandemic.
But income investors could be in for much more pain, as global payouts may fall 35pc in the worst-case scenario.
Businesses have been quick to cut, scrap and postpone dividends in order to preserve cash and stay afloat over recent months, with even the most consistent payers buckling. Royal Dutch Shell, the biggest dividend payer on the FTSE 100, shocked investors last month with the announcement it would cut its dividend for the first time since the Second World War.
British and European businesses are likely to take the biggest hit this year, according to Janus Henderson, a fund shop, which predicted that global dividends would fall by at least 15pc in 2020, down to £1 trillion. This is under the best-case scenario, which only includes the dividend cuts that have already been announced or those that are very likely to be.
At worst, £405bn of shareholder value could be wiped out as global payouts might decline by 35pc, down to £771bn, if all companies that were vulnerable also decided to axe their dividends, the report predicted.
幼女视频在线视频The wide range of possible outcomes reflects the fast-changing nature of the crisis and the fact many businesses will opt to reduce their payouts rather than cut them altogether, it said.
The report said Asia and North America would be the least affected regions in terms of dividend cuts.
Many of the largest businesses in the American market are more resilient to the effects of the pandemic, with a high proportion of technology firms there.
Ben Lofthouse of Janus Henderson said dividend suspensions were “inevitable” due to the sudden halt in economic activity.