S&P said in a news release that there were 136 dividend hikes from the approximately 7,000 public companies reporting statistics to the Standard & Poor’s Dividend Record. There were 150 such dividend increases a year ago.
However, extra dividends for the month totaled 197, a 97% increase from December 2002 and the greatest number of extra payments in the final month of the year since 1989.
The S&P data also show that there were 10 unfavorable dividend actions last month, equal to the number in December 2002. Five companies cut their dividends and another five dropped them. In December 2002, there were seven decreases and three omissions.
On a year-to-date basis, there were 1,630 dividend increases, a 14.4% increase from 2002. However, the total number of 2003 dividend increases remains almost 8% below the 10-year average of 1,767.